Restore UConn's original housing plan
Restore UConn's original housing plan
On June 10th, the University of Connecticut released its draft plan for returning to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. The plan touched on many issues we may face with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it vaguely mentioned that students will have a new housing assignment process. A few weeks later, students were informed that all roommate pairings would be split up in order to reduce the capacity in the dorms and apartments. While most of the changes in the draft plan seem like viable options, such as giving students the option to complete classes online and having a reduced dining hall density, the new housing plan simply does not make sense.
This plan will create more problems than solutions it provides, with the first problem being space. In doing this, UConn fails to realize there will be so much less space for students to live, essentially cutting overall occupancy on campus in half. Many students are making the decision to live off campus now because of this and the added restrictions. Other students who wish to live on campus are worried that they may not even receive housing, which becomes a huge issue for out of state students.
Another shortcoming of this plan is that we were said to have a two-week quarantine in Storrs before classes start. Given these circumstances, it is up to the responsibility of each and every student to ensure they don’t contract the coronavirus in these two weeks. All of the students who test negative should be able to live on campus in the dorms that they were originally assigned to since having zero cases on campus basically “resets our clock”. The only chance of contracting the virus on campus, after a successful quarantine, is from a non-residential student or a professor/faculty member bringing it in, and they do not represent the majority of the student population.
UConn’s plan only looks at solving surface level problems. They did not take into consideration what could happen with groups of roommate pairings. For example, if one student in a suite decides they don’t like what UConn is doing with the dorms and they decide to go off campus, that throws everyone’s plans off. What that means is that one student is left without the option to request one of their original roommates and will have to go random. Many students would feel more comfortable living with friends they chose to live with, as they can consider themselves a “family unit.” If you end up going random, you cannot guarantee that your new roommate has been diligent about limiting contact with possible infected people. Living with roommates you know reduces the stress and anxiety that students already have in troubling times like these.
Another hidden issue with taking away roommates from students living in traditional housing is in regards to mental health. There are so many students that turn to their roommate for emotional support when going through hard times. It is what happens behind closed doors that can make or break a person. With a vast majority of students being alone in their dorm, they may not have anyone to turn to. UConn has had lots of past issues with mental health among students and these issues have still not been thoroughly addressed. Students are already experiencing an increased amount of stress and anxiety from the pandemic and these drastic changes that UConn is making, and I am very confident that this rooming situation will not improve anyone’s well being. Therefore, we need to do everything in our power to protect not only our community’s physical well being but mental well being too.
Overall, I believe UConn needs to honor students’ original housing assignments in order to overcome these obstacles we would face every day. This is not the experience that we pay so much for. UConn has kept us out of the loop for too long and given us such vague answers to every concern we’ve had among this pandemic. On top of all of that, UMass has surveyed its students to see how they felt about having roommates, and they are adapting their original plan of having singles to accommodating as many doubles as they can. They realize how important it is for the students to feel at home and have a roommate. If they can adapt to change, we can too. It’s time to honor this request and it’s time for the voices of the students to be heard and represented in drastic changes like these.