On Monday, March 16, Willamette’s period of online learning was extended to the end of the semester based on new Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidances. Many University departments, including Housing, have had to adapt quickly to the measures the University has taken against the spread of COVID-19. Scott Etherton, director of housing and conferences, provided answers to several common questions surrounding the future of Willamette Housing. These answers are not direct quotes of Etherton’s.
Do I need to fill out the Housing information Google Form in the March 17 email if I filled out the one in the March 13 email?
Yes. The Google Forms have different questions and Housing needs to know whether you plan to stay on campus, the status of your belongings, any dietary restrictions you may have and whether you would take advantage of a shuttle to the airport later this week.
Will I get a refund for room & board if I leave campus?
Currently, this issue is under consideration. The website states that a decision will be reached by the end of March, and Etherton said that questions on this issue should be emailed to <info>. Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) president Amarit Ubhi (‘20) said in a March 13 email to Willamette students that the issue will continue to be brought up and that students will receive updates as they come in.
Will I be able to stay on campus through the end of the semester if I choose?
Yes. While Housing is taking its directives from the University and the OHA, they are looking to keep residence halls open and have no plans to close them. It is critical to indicate your desire to stay in the Housing information Google Form so Housing can plan accordingly. Students can stay on campus for spring break as always.
If I leave campus, will I be able to come back?
Housing is recommending that if you go home, you should stay home. This includes leaving campus only for spring break. If you travel more than 25 miles away from campus, then you will not be allowed to move back onto campus. Based on responses to the Google Form, Housing is taking away building swipe access from students that leave campus. Email <housing> with any questions.
I have already left campus. How do I move out?
You have several options. You can have you or someone you know pick up your items, or have Housing staff do it for you. If you plan to pack up yourself, make sure to let Housing know of your return in advance by emailing <vp-student-affairs>. You will only have two hours to pack up and move out. Housing is currently holding by its normal on-campus storage policy, two boxes per person, because they don’t know how many people they’ll need to have storage for. Housing is investigating other options. The normal checkout process otherwise still applies, so make sure to be in contact with your RA regarding moving out. Make sure to return your room key. You can mail it to Housing by addressing it to “Housing at Willamette” and using Willamette’s address. Make sure to include your name, residence hall and room number in the envelope.
Will residence halls remain open through the summer if travel restrictions are in place?
Housing does not have an answer for this at this time. They are currently focused on addressing the issues that need immediate resolving, and will discuss and shape long term plans over spring break.
Who should I contact for help or for the move out process if my RA has left campus?
Contact another RA nearby or an area coordinator. Their decision on whether to leave or not is up to them and should be respected either way.
Why would students be asked to move rooms if there is no quarantine?
According to Etherton, if there’s a smaller hall with just a few people, it doesn’t make sense to have people isolated. Housing is looking to practice social distancing, not isolation. In addition, some RAs are leaving campus. While Housing does not want to move students, they may have to due to staffing needs, since having fewer students spread out over the same amount of area makes the jobs of the cleaning staff and a smaller group of RAs harder. All rooms students could be moved into would be clean, and thought would be given on where students are placed.
If COVID-19 appears on campus, what would quarantine look like?
To date, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on campus. If it appears on campus, areas have been set aside for affected students to move into. Food would be delivered to the students. The affected students would not share any common bathrooms or facilities with students who are not affected. These areas will not be disclosed due to privacy and safety concerns.
Are all hall activities coming to a stop?
Due to social distancing, the hall events may look different, but Housing wants residents to continue to interact, just from three to six feet away.
Are non-residents allowed in the halls?
No. A parent or close friend may help with move-out, but outside overnight guests are not allowed.
What steps is Housing taking to keep the residence halls clean?
Extra cleaning supplies are being provided and extra care is being taken to wipe down common touchpoints like sink and door handles. In addition, RAs have a lot of discretion as to what additional cleaning and social distancing measures can be taken for their hall.
How is Housing monitoring the issue?
There are many meetings currently going on among University leadership. They are closely following OHA guidances and keeping up to date on all information.
In the March 17 email, Etherton said students may be asked to leave residence halls if they “display behavior antithetical to promoting our efforts.” What does this mean?
Housing is concerned about what would put the community at risk, anything that’s disruptive to the community. This includes fire safety violations, alcohol and marijuana violations. Etherton said that the situation is complicated enough, and that this is a time where we all need to be patient and cooperate with each other.
Will the housing selection timeline for next semester remain the same?
Yes, sign up through the Bearcat BnB as normal if you intend to live on campus next semester. If you are planning to study abroad in the fall and your trip gets canceled later on, Housing will help you find a solution.
Email <housing> and check the Willamette Coronavirus Updates page for answers to questions not addressed in this article. https://willamette.edu/offices/wellness/coronavirus/index.html