Resident students on campus are wondering if they should pack their bags and go home as Stony Brook University transitions to online-only courses in an effort to contain COVID-19.
Although the university is keeping dorms open, some students are worried about the possibility that their circumstances may change. Harvard University, for instance, asked students to leave campus entirely.
Evangeline Parlapanizes, a freshman business major living in H-Quad, grew up on Long Island and wouldn’t have trouble getting home if necessary.
“I live close enough where it’s easy for me to be able to commute if I have to, so I’m one of the lucky ones you could say, but I’m sympathetic for the people who live across the country or in another country,” Parlapanizes said.
International students, who make up 18% of the student body, would make up the brunt of students impacted by this situation. An email sent from Visa and Immigration Services on Wednesday, March 11, confirmed that their F-1 visa status will continue as classes are transitioned online.
“The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) understands that institutions need to adapt their policies and procedures to address the public health concerns associated with COVID-19, and therefore have afforded us the ability to offer classes in alternative formats until further notice,” Visa and Immigration Services wrote in an email to international students.
Shize Fu, a sophomore psychology major, is an international student from China who lives off-campus. Even though he can’t go back home due to travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, he believes the school is making the right decision to go remote.
“I think it’s a good choice but with flaws,” Fu said.
One of those flaws is that the university’s official announcement on Wednesday, March 11, has not helped to relieve students’ anxieties about housing. One worry is about what they’ll do for food if dining halls on campus shut down, although the university announced that they’d stay open.
Brittany Kusi-Jyabaah, a junior health science major living in Roth Quad, has growing concerns because she is from the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York and isn’t sure where to go if she needs to leave campus.
“I’m from Westchester, and they have more cases in Westchester than they do here,” Kusi-Jyabaah said. Westchester county currently has the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York, outside of New York City. “If they kick me off of campus, I wouldn’t feel safe going back.”
Stony Brook University has lent itself as a home for many students, and this shift has left them rattled, trying to swiftly organize their housing situations.
“It’s something that everyone is taking seriously; some people move their whole lives here,” Kusi-Jyabaah said.