Written by: Madeleine Jenness
Since March 9th, when the University of Washington transitioned to all-online classes, a lot has changed. COVID-19 seems to have impacted every aspect of our lives, especially college students’ place of residence. At UW Bothell, student housing has remained available to its residents after many worried regarding other colleges giving their students little to no time to move out for the rest of the academic year. However, that is not to say that UW Bothell’s housing has not been, and will not continue to be, impacted by COVID-19.
Across the country, many college students have moved out of their college dorms and apartments due to the virus, some making the choice themselves and some being forced too. But thankfully for UW Bothell students, that is not the reality.
“The residence halls here at UW Bothell still remain home to many of our students. For some of our residents, this may be their only home or they may live internationally or far away and may not be able to get home very easily so, in accordance with President Cauce’s email, we kept them open for those who needed it. We also have a very unique set up in UWB housing in that a majority of our units have external front doors and their own bathrooms and laundry so the risk of many people in shared spaces was far lower here,” says Afton Lopez, the Residential Director of Operations.
As of May 8th, housing offers have been sent out and accepted for returning and new students for the 2020-2021 school year. But, the University has put a hold on other new housing offers until they have a more definitive idea of what the next academic year is going to look like.
“At this time, we are temporarily pausing new housing offers for the next academic year’s remaining vacancies until we confirm occupancy make-up for the safety of our residents and staff. Although we anticipate not needing to adjust overall occupancy to be in compliance with Environmental Health and Safety and King County Public Health guidelines while still providing social distancing measures which are anticipated to still be in some effect, we want to gain additional information before making further commitments to students for housing reservations.” says an email from the UW Student Housing Office on May 8th.
The present life for those living on-campus has changed as well. The most noticeable change is allowing residents to move out early, waiving all fees for both an early termination of the housing contract as well as spring quarter charges. Those living on-campus were given the ability to move out free-of-charge by April 8th. The moving-out process was also made compilable with social distancing procedures.
Charges for the spring quarter remained the same for those who chose to remain on-campus.
Another change is the reduction of the Husky Village Community Center’s hours of operation. They are now 11:30 am – 2:00 pm Monday through Saturday. HVCC hours have been decreased so the student desk staff would only be in the office to perform essential functions. These changes were done with resident and staff safety in mind.
“In student housing, the health and safety of our residents is the top priority for us. We changed some of our policies to reflect this,” says Lopez. “We are being extra cautious, however, and are having our RA team disinfect popular “touch points” such as the hallways door handles in Campus View, the HVCC Door handles and Bathroom Handles, and the front desk frequently throughout the day.”
Other Notable Changes to on-campus housing are as follows:
● Disallowance of guests in the units
● Closure of the lounge area
● Requesting students to cover their mouth and nose when entering the HVCC
● Implementation of weekly check-ins with residents.
Residents have also been asked to stay at home if they develop symptoms. Anyone experiencing symptoms of cough, fever, or shortness of breath need to stay home and let their RA know that they are ill and their RA will work with them to create a plan to make sure they get what they need.
“[C]onsider covering your mouths with any cloth that you have access to, to avoid the spread of germs[…] something is better than nothing!” says an email from the Housing and Residential Life Team.
Residential Advisors were also given the same move-out offer as residents were. Residential life now has eight Resident Advisors compared to the ten that they had before.
“We wanted to give our Resident Advisors an opportunity to be home with their families before the stay at home order took into effect,” says Karan Sandhu, the Residential Director of Residential Education at UW Bothell. “We still have around ninety students living on campus,” says Sandhu.
Not everything has changed, however. The Resident Advisors continue to operate on a 24/7 on-call duty rotation as they did before.
The story is different for the Residential Hall Association. Since they are no longer on-campus, they will no longer be programming spring quarter, says an email on April 9th from the UWB Housing and Residential Life Team.
Thankfully, Residential Life is still holding events—albeit virtual—for residents. These include seminars, movie viewings, and more. You can follow Student Engagement Activities and Recreation and Wellness for more information, or follow this link for the new “Virtual Activities” page: www.uwb.edu/sea/virtualactivities.
“I feel very grateful to be working with UWB students and hold a lot of Husky pride in my heart,” says Sandhu.
Lopez puts it perfectly: “[W]e will always be here for our residents *even if we have to be 6 feet away*.”