Students remember chaos, uncertainty of coronavirus dorm closures last year

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Bella Ross

San Diego State freshmen move out of campus housing in mid-March amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

by Jeanette Giovanniello, Senior Staff Writer

This week marks one year since San Diego State students went virtual and on-campus students were given just one day to move out.

After classes were moved to an online platform and shelter-in-place orders were being enforced throughout the country, the university decided to close residential communities for the remainder of the semester on March 17. With the exception of international and out-of-state students, anyone who lived on campus was required to move out by 8 p.m. the following day.

Although the mandate was inevitable, it was a sad shock for students. Nicolas Akita, a business administration sophomore, was living in University Towers before he had to leave. Akita said he wished SDSU could have given freshmen more time to move out and say their goodbyes. 

“I’m sure they didn’t plan on doing that, but it was just frustrating because it was such short notice,” Akita said. “I wish they would’ve done that in the first place, because for a while they were beating around the bush.”

Some of the difficulties came not just from the sudden relocation, but also a lack of support. Sophomore Marijke van fee Geer said that her coursework and professors made her move out of Zura even more of a challenge.

“It was a very hectic two days, I just wish they had handled it a bit better,” van fee Geer said.

“The morning we had to pack up and leave, I had quizzes for my classes that were online. I think that administration and the teachers didn’t do the best job of providing leniency for the students there.”

Since the start of the 2020-21 school year, students are allowed to live on-campus again, although their experience is unprecedented. Common areas are closed, you can only have one person in your room and no guests from other buildings are allowed in other dorms.

Faith Owens, a criminal justice first-year, currently lives in South Campus Plaza. She said she decided to live on campus to meet friends, although it has been challenging given the circumstances.

“I regret coming here at all just because it’s so expensive to live here especially compared to off-campus prices,” Owens said. “And I’m stuck here not even just for one year because of Sophomore Success. So I have to do this all over again next year, too.”

The Sophomore Success initiative requires non-local students to live on campus for the first two years of school. In mid-November, SDSU made an exception to this rule and allowed students to opt-out of the program and move out early by Dec. 18, 2020. However, Owens said that the deadline was too soon for her, and many students, to make new living arrangements. 

“The announcement was right when finals were happening, so I didn’t have time to find a new place to live,” Owens said. 

Living on campus this semester also comes with potential dangers. Despite the university placing several stay-at-home advisories and lockdowns, Owens said that she has been through several COVID scares. Aside from health concerns, Owens also said her decision to live on-campus has been both challenging and lonely.

“For so long, I was looking forward to college and I got here and it was a total let down,” Owens said. “I’m trying to be positive about it, but it’s just because only freshmen are isolated to themselves here, and this year is when a lot of people grow and they learn who they are.”

Looking forward, SDSU housing has said they plan to house approximately 5,600 students in the Fall of 2021.

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