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On-campus housing will be closing for the rest of the semester, according to a March 17 email from the Division of Campus Residences. Students are expected to leave immediately.
The decision was made “in an effort to significantly reduce the population density on campus and ensure social distancing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” according to the email.
Campus residents who live within driving distance of the campus must evacuate no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. All other campus residents must evacuate no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
Those who may choose to remain on campus include research project assistants, teaching assistants and graduate assistants, including international students who hold these positions.
“We will make other exceptions on a case-by-case basis,” the email said. Students with extenuating circumstances must fill out a form for special consideration by 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.
Students who choose to stay may be assigned to alternate housing, and will not be able to leave campus after Friday’s deadline. They will also not be allowed to visit students from other resident halls or host off-campus guests.
Visa and Immigration services won’t “terminate/shorten the immigration records for F-1/J-1 degree-seeking students who remain enrolled and depart the U.S.,” according to the email. It noted, however, that “Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not provided updated guidance regarding procedures for re-entry (including the 5 month absence from the U.S.).”
International students looking to obtain a travel signature before they leave must submit a form in accessVIS.
“Room and meal plan costs (where applicable) will be prorated for the remainder of the semester for all students leaving campus housing and applied as a refund and/or credit to your student account based on the date of check out,” according to the email.
Before the email was sent out, 966 students from various State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) campuses signed the Change.org petition “SUNY/CUNY Schools’ Room and Board Partial Refund.”
The petition was created “to let both the state and SUNY/CUNY system know that students will not tolerate schools’ taking advantage of a viral pandemic in order to steal money,” according to the petition.
Students who left for spring break were asked to return to pick up their belongings and complete the checkout process. Students who already moved out but did not return their room key were asked to mail it back to their quad office in a padded envelope.
The email included an attached document with steps for “successful checkout.”
All move-outs will be done by express check out, which doesn’t require a resident assistant’s approval before students leave. Residents should fill out the required information on an express check out envelope and include their room key in the envelope.
Once a student’s room key is returned and the space is verified as vacant, the billing for housing will end.
“If you are home and unable to return to campus to complete the move out process, your personal items will be inventoried, boxed and removed from your space by University staff and stored at your expense,” according to the attached document. Billing for housing will continue until the space is vacant and a room key is returned by mail.
Many students are concerned about how they will move everything so quickly.
“For someone whose parents live out of state, it’s almost impossible to move out in just three days,” G’ianni Nazar, a freshman and on-campus resident, said.
Katie Tobias, a sophomore biology major and on-campus resident, went back upstate for spring break. After getting the email, Tobias said she doesn’t know how she will be able to gather all of her belongings by Friday.
“It’s frustrating because I understand they want to keep us safe and want to have us out as soon as possible but for someone who lives farther away, it’s stressful trying to find a way to get to campus before Friday,” she said.
Melinda Mercedes, a freshman astronomy and physics double major, said that the email left her frustrated.
“Stony is definitely a home to me, and I’m really upset that they’re shutting down campus,” she said. “It’s really the only place I feel safe in and get to enjoy peace and quiet.”