It wasn’t until a few days before classes started last week that many students realized they only had eleven hours to move into campus housing before Monday night classes started. Worried that this wouldn’t give them enough time to get their lives in order before classes started, 90 of these students attended a Facebook event designed to rally Student Life to open campus housing earlier.
Instead of opening all campus housing a day earlier, however, Residence Life ended up dealing with students on a case-by-case basis. If students were traveling from over eight hours or had flight reservations, they could contact their resident director and be admitted into their campus housing after 8 p.m. on Sunday evening.
In past years housing has always been opened for everyone on Sunday evening, followed by check-in on Monday with night classes beginning that evening. But because check-in was moved online this semester, Student Life reasoned that students wouldn’t need as much time to move in. The decision was not necessarily a financial one according to Bill Born, vice president of Student Life.
“It was based on the timing sequence of when students needed to be on campus,” said Born.
Chad Coleman, resident director of small-group housing, reasoned that only a small percentage of students had a night class, and an even smaller percentage was driving from far enough away that they couldn’t get to campus in time to start class. Student Life emailed students and put up fliers before Christmas break advertising that housing would open on Monday morning at 8 a.m.
But these faraway dates and their implications didn’t really register with many students until the beginning of January rolled around and they were getting ready to return to campus. When he realized that he would have to start class on the same day he arrived on campus, Austin Yoder, a junior, started a Facebook event that invited 266 students to write emails of protest to Student Life.
“Student Life received 30 or so inquiries regarding the return time the final week of break,” said Born. “Some were inquiries for clarity and others were complaints.”
“You can’t just come back and go right to night class,” said Lisa Weaver, a junior who attended the Facebook event. “There was no way I was going to come back Monday. That thought didn’t even enter my mind.”
She reasoned that students have to unpack, buy groceries and books, do homework for their night classes and set up their houses before the chaos of schoolwork ensues—and eleven hours is just not enough time to accomplish all of this.
Students who live far away were especially in a bind. For Weaver, who lives ten hours away, it would have been impossible to arrive on campus on time without having to drive through the night. Many students carpool, so if anyone in the car has a night class or another reason to return to campus early, everyone must come back early. Student Life recognized these sorts of circumstances and promised to open housing earlier for students who had made prior arrangements with their resident directors.
“None of it was mean-spirited,” said Coleman. “The bottom line is that we made good on everyone who had a problem.”
Check-in will continue to be held online in coming semesters, but Student Life has yet to decide whether they will allot a similar amount of time for students to return to campus next year.
“We will continue to make the decision in a similar manner as this year,” said Born.