Coronavirus concerns prompt closure of Ashland University residence halls

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Gracie Wilson

Rooms are brought back to how they looked before students moved in at the beginning of the school year.

Gracie Wilson, ASSISTANT EDITOR/ OPINION EDITOR

The suspension of face to face instruction for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester at Ashland University that was announced on March 16 filled students with confusion, sadness, worry and uncertainty.

What came next only added to these mixed feelings. Shortly after classes on campus were canceled, students were notified that all of the residence halls would be closing on Sunday March 22 and students would need to return to campus and collect their belongings.

In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, students that live in odd-numbered rooms could report on odd-numbered days and even rooms would report on even-numbered days until the closure on Sunday.

The announcement on Monday left students less than a week to return to Eagle Nation for their belongings, a trip that is not convenient for everyone to make on short notice. Students attend AU from far and wide, and returning to campus from their home to collect their belongings two months early can pose a challenge.

“As of right now, I have been stuck in my home state of Texas unable to travel back, so everything that I had in Ashland is just staying there,” Grey Johnston, a junior political science and history major said. “I am glad that the campus is taking a quick and encompassing approach towards fighting this pandemic.”

While returning to pack and move out poses a challenge to students physically, emotionally, the early leave from campus has been just as hard for them.

“Moving out early was pretty emotional considering that I wasn’t mentally prepared to be leaving for the rest of the semester,” Bethany Bacus, a junior nursing major said. “Moving out, in general, is always hard when you see the room completely empty.”

The sudden shock of moving out early threw a wrench in the plans of many students who were looking forward to participating in more of their clubs and activities as well as making new memories with friends.

“I know my roommates and I were looking forward to spending more time together, and having that time cut short is honestly hard to cope with,” Bacus said.

For some students, it is hard to believe how quickly everything came to fruition. The announcement to suspend classes for two weeks came over spring break, and only six days later the announcement about the rest of the semester came.

“I’m still in shock because of how quickly it all happened,” Molly Campbell, a sophomore political science major said. “I had high hopes that we would be back on campus this semester. It’s definitely a sad a stressful time for everyone, students and professors both.”

As students make the move back home, they are also making the transition to working from home on their studies, something that may be unfamiliar to students and will be challenging to adjust to.

“I am two hours away from my friends that help me get through college on a day to day basis and I am two hours away from the environment that I learn best in,” Raegan Schafer, a junior biology major said. “I am struggling to find space where I can work on schoolwork from home and trying to make my life somewhat normal during these crazy times.”

Not only does moving off campus change the course of classes for the rest of the semester, but it also changes extracurricular activities planned by student organizations.

“I feel really bad for the seniors, especially those in FSL,” Campbell said.

Fraternity and Sorority life is among just one group that has had their spring plans disrupted by the move off campus, including the cancellation of formals and Greek Week.

As the news continues to develop around the virus, the university continues to keep up correspondence with the campus community and keep its students and faculty informed.

“I appreciate that they value our safety above our convenience,” Johnston said.

While the news came as a shock to students that they would have to move out of their dorms eight weeks earlier than expected, students do their best to adapt. However, this change cannot be adjusted to overnight.

“No matter how much stuff I get put away or how many assignments I complete, I still feel lost without my second home at AU,” Schafer said.