Majority of on-campus residents move out, but the halls stay open

By Katie Smith, A&E Editor

Soon after they received the news that spring break would be extended a week, students living in the residence halls had to make a decision about whether to pack up and go home or stay where they were.

“When the announcement was made that it was a two-week spring break, professors said, ‘Don’t expect to come back,” said former Fugate Hall resident Jacob Kleespie.

Now, 142 of Newman’s 196 on-campus residents have left. Among the 54 who remain, several said it felt like the best decision for them.

Meanwhile, some of the students who chose to go say that the decision was tough and the ending too abrupt.

Residents living on Newman’s campus received emails offering them an option to leave, and they were told they would receive a refund for the second half of the semester fees if they chose to leave.

“I debated whether to stay on campus or move back home,” Kleespie said. “After they announced the refunds, it was no-brainer for me. All my classes were online, and I was getting some money back.”

Even though some universities have closed their dorms, Newman has not forced anyone to leave.

“[It’s a] good show of faith to not kick students out,” Resident Assistant Gabby Altenor said.

Most students, like Kleespie, have left campus. There are, however, a few who have chosen to stay.

Altenor said that the majority of students who are choosing to stay on campus are either local or their home location is a hotspot for COVID-19.

Sophomore Brenden Schwartz has decided to stay on campus to keep his girlfriend, who is unable to leave, company.

“My girlfriend is from California and couldn’t move back because they are under lockdown, so she has to stay here… I decided to stay so that she wouldn’t be alone. All of her roommates moved out too, and it honestly seems like the rest of the building did the same,” he said.

With a bunch of students moving out all at once, the Resident Assistants have been kept busy.

For the last two weeks, residents have been offered move out slots between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.  and are given three hours to get in, move out all of their stuff, and clean their rooms.

Throughout both weeks of spring break, RAs have been there to help move them out and fill out the coronavirus questionnaires, Altenor said. They help to disinfect student rooms before and after moving and assess any damage with room condition reports.

Altenor is now managing Beata by herself. She said that there are around five students still occupying the dorm, and 14 dorm rooms still have students’ belongings in them.

Altenor said that while dealing with getting people moved out, she had to work with students who had just been all over the country, in potential COVID-19 hotspots.

She said that they were concerned it would be difficult to convince international students to head home but that they were the first students to leave.

Students who have left have said the departure from friends was sudden and disappointing.

“I'm disappointed that … we can't spend the last half of the semester together. There's a lot of people I realize I won't see. That came quicker than expected,” Kleespie said.

Courtesy Photo provided by University Relations