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'Hard not to be disappointed': Granville residents look ahead after canceling leases


Students kick a ball around on the lawn in front of Granville Towers, an off-campus residence hall on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.

Following the University’s decision to move undergraduate classes to remote delivery, students living in residence halls were asked to cancel their housing contracts by Aug. 25 and return to their permanent homes by Aug. 30. 

Those living in privately owned Granville Towers were no exception. 

Granville Towers is owned by the University of North Carolina Foundation and partners with Carolina Housing. The residence hall was the site of a COVID-19 cluster and has had 144 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Monday.

Stephanie Berrier, interim director of marketing and communications of UNC finance and operations, said in an email that the privately owned and managed residence hall for UNC students will be following the same move-out procedures as Carolina Housing. 

UNC is using a formal review process for students who need to remain on campus, prioritizing criteria such as lack of access to reliable internet, lack of access to safe alternative housing or international students, UNC Media Relations said in an email. 

In the last week, Granville Towers' occupancy decreased from 76.6 percent to 21.5 percent, with only 280 leases remaining as of Monday. 

Sam Rappaport, a first-year student who was living in Granville Towers, said he wasn’t surprised when the University asked students to cancel their housing contracts.

“I think we all kind of came in and expected this at least in some capacity,” he said. “I don’t think anyone thought we would be here for a week and then leave, but it’s hard not to be disappointed about it.”

Rappaport said he has moved home to Raleigh for the semester, but said he knows other students who were living in Granville Towers and are now trying to find off-campus housing.

“A lot of people are scrambling to find apartments, so all that can be stressful,” he said.

Rappaport said he witnessed students in Granville Towers mostly wearing masks and following guidelines in hallways and the dining hall, but small and large groups of students would gather in dorm rooms.

First-year student Ashley Parsons was also living in Granville Towers. She said no one stopped students from having various people gather in their rooms.

“There were definitely people having a lot of people in rooms, which I don’t think we were really supposed to do, but they weren’t super cracking down on it,” she said.

Parsons said she is moving into an off-campus apartment next week with roommates she found in a Facebook group for leases and subleases in Chapel Hill.

“It’s definitely been stressful trying to balance all my online classes and trying to find a place to live,” she said.

First-year student Lacey Ragan said she is also planning to move from Granville to an off-campus apartment in Chapel Hill. She said she considered moving home but was worried about being in a distracting environment.

“I’m better off being on my own and being able to focus on everything,” she said.

First-year Madison Grajzar canceled her lease at Granville Towers before move-in day and instead found an off-campus apartment with her roommate.

“I knew a lot of my friends were going to be going home, so that was very sad,” she said. “I was frustrated for them because I know it’s not really feasible for everyone to be able to get off-campus housing so late in the game.”

Reed Bass, a first-year student who lived in Granville Towers, said he's temporarily relocating to Parker Residence Hall to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I don’t really know what to expect to be honest with you, but I don’t really have any other options because I can’t go home,” he said.

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Bass lives with his 100-year-old grandmother, and his mother works in health care. He said he is even wary to return home after his isolation period is up and wants to make sure he won’t transmit the virus to family or friends at home. 

He said he is looking for an off-campus apartment to sublease after he leaves isolation in Parker Residence Hall, but he isn’t sure what his plan is yet. 

“The things that freshmen this year have had to deal with are just something that they shouldn’t have to deal with,” Bass said.