Wayne State students began moving into on-campus housing this week ahead of the new semester, but not as many as in the year's past.
WSU’s on-campus housing could room 2,881 students in 2019, according to the university’s website.
In 2020, not all beds will be filled and not all dorms will be open.
Just under 2,000 students will be living on-campus this year, said Nick Board, interim associate director of student auxiliary services. Students will be living in Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, Leon H. Atchison Hall, Towers Residential Suites and University Towers Apartments.
Roxanne Finniss, a WSU sophomore exercise and sport science major, is living in Towers Residential Suites this fall, but she originally requested to live in Chatsworth Suites, she said.
Chatsworth Suites is closed this fall along with Yousif B. Ghafari Hall and the Thompson Home.
“I was notified through emails from the school I believe a week before the original housing contract cancellation was due. I’m fine with living in Towers since it’s around the same price as Chatsworth. I just hope that the elevators actually work this year,” Finniss said.
The housing cancelation deadline was extended to July 20, after WSU’s July 15 announcement on the status of fall classes, Board said.
Students were given the “option to cancel based on personal circumstances,” he said. There were a high number of cancellations at the deadline.
Victoria Traver, a junior computer science major, previously lived in Yousif B. Ghafari Hall but decided not to live on-campus this year because of the pandemic, she said. She applied for WSU housing and submitted a cancellation request after housing’s original deadline.
“Since I cancelled after their deadline they denied my cancellation request saying financial reasons was not an acceptable reason,” she said. “Fortunately, the cancellation deadline was extended and my cancellation ended up being approved.”
In order to protect the health and safety of all individuals in residence buildings, WSU has instituted COVID-19 guidelines. The university has adopted the “Warrior Safe is Warrior Strong” slogan to encourage adherence to the guidelines.
Like Finniss, students whose requested residence building is closed this fall will be provided alternative on-campus housing, Board said.
In some cases, a four-person dorm may be reduced to two or three people living in the room, he said.
“We’ve been working hard in summer to spread people out and de-densify —adequate social distancing,” Board said.
All residents will be tested for COVID-19 as part of the move-in process, Board said. Any further testing will come at the recommendation of the WSU Health Policy Committee.
WSU housing is preparing for the possibility that students may contract COVID-19 while living on campus, Board said. For infected residents, there are isolation areas set up within residence buildings to accommodate quarantining and WSU dining is working to provide meal delivery to their rooms.
Residents also had to complete online courses on campus and housing COVID-19 mitigation strategies, according to WSU’s website.
“We’re trying to mitigate community spread and minimize risk. Part of that really falls on each one of us as warriors and so there's a lot more of really trying to instill that personal responsibility in students,” Board said.
WSU has put in-place safety guidelines that must be followed by residents in housing facilities. Face masks are required to be worn in throughout the building, except in an individual's room. Residents must also remain six feet apart in spaces that allow.
Guests will also not be allowed in the building and residents must swipe in and show a building sticker to enter their residence.
“I definitely think that the guest policy is going to change a lot of people’s experiences this year as well as the amount of people living in the dorms. There’s probably going to be fewer people on each floor,” Finniss said. “The zero guest policy will definitely change the noise levels and amount of traffic throughout the residence halls.”
Housing staff are being directed to ask individuals to put a mask on if seen without, Board said.
The community living guide is also being updated as part of the COVID-19 updates to WSU’s Student Code of Conduct.
Board said housing officials are pushing back against misinformation and resistance to following safety guidelines by informing residents of their evidence-based nature.
“All our guidelines are coming from science-based recommendations,” he said. “It's really just a requirement for personal safety in our buildings. I think it's all just coming back to us doing our part to educate and helping our residents understand.”
Finniss said she hopes housing checks people’s temperatures and tests for COVID-19 more often. She also hopes residents wear masks and refrain from sneaking guests into the building.
“I just want them (housing) to make it as safe as possible,” she said.
Jenna Prestininzi is managing editor of The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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