Students move off campus as COVID-19 cases rise

Students move off campus as COVID-19 cases rise

As coronavirus outbreaks persist, students begin moving out of their dorms to return home for break.
Published: November 18, 2020
Students move out
Students use the large wheeled buckets supplied to them to pack their belongings into their vehicles.

Following a turbulent week in a semester already full of uncertainties, many Syracuse University students have decided to return home for the remainder of the semester, pushing forward their departure dates and emphasizing the unpredictability of the near future. Students living in dorms and South Campus apartments have been told to completely pack all of their belongings prior to leaving, and to put that which they cannot bring home in university-supplied boxes to be sent to their homes should the spring 2021 semester be held virtually.

“It was honestly such a relief to pack up and leave in November rather than in May,” said sophomore Dylan Lopez. “I only came back because I thought it would be nice to not have as crowded of a campus.”

Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation J. Michael Haynie and Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu said in a campus-wide email this past Monday that, as a result of exponentially increasing COVID-19 cases on campus, numerous activities on campus would begin shutting down. In addition, they announced that all in-person classes would end starting Monday, Nov. 16. However, as COVID-19 cases continued to increase at unprecedented rates, an email from Chancellor Kent Syverud on Wednesday evening announced that in-person classes would pause effective immediately.

“No one could have predicted we would make it this far with in-person learning,” said Lopez. “I have to tip my hat off to SU for keeping this thing going for as long as they did.”

Each student living in a dorm is allowed 4 boxes to pack their belongings that they will be leaving in their rooms.
Each student living in a dorm is allowed four boxes to pack their belongings that they will be leaving in their rooms.

For many students, this abrupt news has them worried about their capabilities to continue with their coursework and final exams in a virtual setting, on top of leaving campus safely. Others note the similarities in this move-out process compared to the previous two semesters, which had also been stressful for all.

“I’m leaving tonight, but I have one final project due tomorrow night and two more due Monday,” said Keira Barry, a sophomore magazine journalism student. “Because I’m a sophomore, my first semester ended with Not Again SU, second semester with the beginning of COVID and now my third semester is ending that way, too. I wanted to experience a normal end to a semester.”

Students living in dorms were previously prompted to select their departure date and time on MySlice, however, following this abrupt pause, many decided to head home earlier to finish the rest of their classes. Others have reluctantly changed their plans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on campus, which raises questions in regards to campus safety during the move-out process.

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Cars lineup outside a dorm as students prepare to move out.

“I think that students leaving early obviously speeds up the process,” said Mitch Gordon, a senior accounting student and a resident advisor in Ernie Davis Hall. “The new changes are put in place to keep everyone safe but many of the additional administrative tasks can easily interfere with students trying to wrap up their classes before they depart.”

Despite growing COVID-19 concerns, many parents have come to bring their children home while others bring their cars already on campus closer to their dorms, creating a sight not normally seen at the end of the fall semester. Students filled the wheeled buckets with their belongings and brought them to their vehicles without normally-offered assistance from staff members, as the move-out process changed to be completely hands-off.

“I hope that we can come back to campus because I learn way better here than at home,” said Barry. “But now I’m dreading having to unpack all this stuff again and adjust to the beginning of the spring semester.”