An email from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs on March 12 encouraged students to remain at their permanent place of residence or other off-campus locations until another update from the University regarding COVID-19.
“We know that you are eager to return to campus to reconnect with friends or to resume activities, but we need your help to support the health and well-being of the entire Carolina community,” the email stated.
This notice left many students, like sophomore Jessica Reid, feeling unprepared for the transition to online classes, which will start next week and continue indefinitely.
“I feel like it’s difficult because from their perspective everything happened really rapidly,” Reid said. “I know for me when I left school for spring break on that Friday, I was not expecting school to be presumably canceled for the rest of the semester.”
The notice prompted some to return to campus and pack additional items to take home.
“My study abroad trip this summer got canceled,” sophomore Hannah Thompson said. “So I figured if they were canceling things as far ahead into summer, that’s a decent indicator that I can come back and at least get a majority of my things.”
However, transportation to campus was difficult for Thompson, who lives three hours away in Marion, North Carolina. She packed only clothes, rather than moving out completely.
“Moving out is such a long and tedious process,” Thompson said. “And it’s difficult since I don’t have my car, I have to have my parents help me and since they work, it’s not like I can just pick up at the drop of a hat when they say ‘Okay, you guys can move out now.’ So, it’s a little bit difficult to come across that decision.”
Thompson said she would have wanted an update sooner from the University about its considerations in response to COVID-19.
“We went home thinking, ‘Well it’s just going to be a week we don’t need everything,’ and now we’re kind of stuck at home and we’re being strongly advised not to return to the University,” Thompson said. “I guess it’s just difficult to anticipate how much our professors are going to expect out of us whenever we may or may not have all of our school materials.”
The UNC System sent a press release on Tuesday announcing that it would be instructing students to return to their permanent address unless granted an exception to remain in university housing.
UNC-Chapel Hill had not yet sent a specific update about the closing of its dorms at this time.
“It just sucks because UNC’s not the best at sending out emails so it’s kind of hard not knowing what’s happening,” sophomore Urvi Patel said. “The news knows, but students are kind of still in the dark.”
The announcement from the UNC System has brought up concerns about refunds for campus housing. An announcement from UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, sent Tuesday afternoon, said decisions on refunds for housing and dining will be made by the UNC System.
“I do hope that the university will consider some sort of refund policy for the dorms and some of the things that would have come along with living on campus like meal plans,” Reid said. “I understand that it’s a tough economic situation right now and that it’s probably not their biggest priority when we’re worried about saving lives, but I do hope that that’s something that might be considered as we go along in this crisis.”
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