Residence Halls Prepare for Modified Semester

Patricia Whyte, Staff Writer

As Fordham prepares to reopen, there will be many aspects of residential life that will look different this coming semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs sent an email on July 21 to the Fordham community detailing the ongoing plan for residential life, as well as other information about the return to campus this semester. 

“As we prepare for fall 2020, we have been working diligently to reimagine a safe and enriching student experience on campus,” the email said. 

The email explained that the university will provide housing accommodations consistent with residence hall capacity. It also described the phased move-in process, visitation restrictions and quarantine for students coming from states on the New York state quarantine list. 

In order to maintain social distancing, extended move-in periods were made available, and resident students who live closer to campus could schedule a time to move belongings onto campus prior to final arrival. Students coming from states on the New York state quarantine list were asked to self quarantine on or off campus for two weeks upon arrival. It was also made clear that the university would suspend guest passes for the time being. 

The email also said that students who do not wish to return to campus had the option to leave housing. Students considering a leave from campus housing were instructed to contact the Office of Residential Life on their respective campus. Should a student decide to move out of housing after returning to campus, they will receive a refund in proportion to when they pulled out of housing. Any student who wishes to defer housing for the semester will be guaranteed housing upon their return, but are not promised to retain their existing housing assignment. 

Nick Roveto, ’22, decided to come back to campus in person this fall. 

“I can’t wait to get back to Fordham even if all my classes are online,” Roveto said. “My biggest hope is that we just get to stay on campus the whole semester. It will be a much needed change of pace.” 

Other are concerned that opening residence halls at full capacity may increase students’ risk of being infected. CNN has reported at least 19 states are seeing COVID-19 outbreaks on college campuses as students return. 

Catriona Delumpa, FCRH ’22, expressed her fears that this semester is going to be difficult for students in regards to mental and physical health, academics and social life. 

“I personally disagree with Fordham’s decision to open at full capacity,” she said. “Especially as a student who has to work with residents so often, I feel unsafe knowing that campus will be so busy. That being said, ResLife is also taking the highest safety precautions when it comes to housing.” 

These precautions include eliminating converted triples in first-year halls, invoking emergency plans to provide additional housing according to demand and suspending visitation and overnight guests. 

Other Resident Assistants (RAs) share the sentiment that returning to campus at full capacity is not safe. The RA Staffs of each hall sent a letter to Dean Rodgers and Residential Life officials expressing their concerns about Fordham’s new COVID-19 guest policy. 

The policy would ban inter-residence hall visitation. The letter states Resident Assistants were not made aware of the policy prior to their arrival to campus. Likewise, students were not expected to receive notice of this policy update until after move in. 

The Instagram page @fordhamsimplified posted information about the dorm life policy change on Aug. 12, urging people to share so that students were aware before returning to campus. 

“Students will not be allowed to visit any residential halls that they do not live in,” the post read. “Guards will be stationed at all Fordham housing 24/7 to ensure no violations. Students will not be allowed to engage in social gatherings of greater than 10 people.”

Fordham Simplified, an informal student organization, said they are dedicated to informing students of Fordham events, taking submissions from direct messages and reposting information in a way that is easily consumed by the public. 

“Several RAs have reported and corroborated this information,” Fordham Simplified said. “The decision to not allow inter dorm visitation was apparently not decided until (Aug. 12).”

In their letter, the RAs said they felt this information would have significantly impacted students’ decision to return to campus, and the university’s reluctance to communicate this with their community is misleading. 

Anticipating the great financial difficulty to the residential community and rise in mental health concerns on campus, the letter advocated for Residential Life to share this policy update publicly. 

“We strongly urge Residential Life to 1) share an official announcement of its new policy to the residential community by Monday, August 17th, and 2) postpone the deadline for full housing refunds until after August 31st,” the letter read. 

As of Aug. 22, no official announcement has been made by the Office of Residential Life regarding this policy change.