Since COVID-19 began to shut down the world, prospective college students have been advised to pay close attention to how the schools they’re eyeing are treating students in this time of crisis. We’ve seen some highly prestigious schools set awful examples in this respect.
And while UR has not been perfect in their response to COVID-19, there is much to appreciate.
The Campus Times has been impressed with how members of our community, from faculty and administrators to students and staff members, have shown that they are dedicated to making sure everyone is as supported and safe as possible.
Unlike Harvard — which gave all students five days to get out — UR managed to clear most students off campus in a well-paced, relatively safe way. Given more than a week to leave, students had some time to organize, prioritize, and plan for the upcoming shake-up.
Don’t get us wrong — UR’s move out process was still flawed. Asking students to leave is never going to be easy, and it creates different problems for different populations. Some students’ needs were overlooked in order to reach tough targets necessary to keep Rochester safe, and this can never be justified or dismissed.
While we won’t pretend the execution had no problems, UR’s decision to give all international students the option to remain on campus showed they are attempting to be sensitive to the different needs of the student population. It also provides a welcome contrast to universities like Marist, which mandated all students to move off-campus earlier this week and is looking to make very few exceptions. UR as of now is still hosting somewhere under 1,000 students on its campus.
But the administration’s accomplishments in the face of the COVID-19 crisis are also, to a degree, a result of students making their voices heard — which is also good. The spring break extension that allowed people to collect their belongings without simultaneously dealing with classes was thanks in part to an SA Impact petition from a student that was backed by over 900 students.
It’s heartening to see students stepping up and advocating for others, and it’s reassuring to know that we as students have a collective power to enact change on this campus (sometimes). This willingness to be vocal and stand up for each other makes us especially proud.
For the students who still remain on campus, UR has continued to show a willingness to support, even when making tough, inconvenient calls.
For example, 65 students, living in Hill Court, were notified on Thursday that they would be moved to Southside for the remainder of the semester. That way, Southside would be open for students who need to self-quarantine. While this is an unwelcome change for many students who expected to remain in their original rooms, it is a change that prioritizes safety. Suitemates will still be in the same or the adjacent apartments, but they are now much more spread out in their living arrangements, limiting the potential spread of the virus. The Southside apartments have also been cleaned since their original occupants have moved out.
Residential Life also recognized the inconvenience of asking everyone to move out by Sunday, and they have tried to make the moving process easier. Students can get free boxes, and the Facilities Department has a schedule of times throughout the weekend when they will be helping to move belongings between the two residential areas for students.
Students were also informed this past week that their Declining dollars would now be able to buy them food from any off-campus restaurant on Grubhub in addition, a welcome change for those alternating between the relatively limited options on campus.
So UR has done a lot well. But it can never be enough.
The crises are never ending, so the solutions must be as well. All students, faculty, staff, and especially administrators must continue working towards seeing that everyones’ needs are met. This will be impossible unless there is accountability. We must hold the people in charge, the people who have the resources and the power to help those who are struggling, accountable for what they do and for what they do not do.
At CT, we’ll be trying our hardest to provide this accountability, but we can’t do this alone. And we acknowledge that, despite what we’ve seen, we may not have the full picture, or be aware of how the needs of certain students are being neglected.
So let’s stay adamant about being heard. Send us a tip, contact your senators, make a petition, email administrators, start a conversation in the meme pages.
Do whatever you can to make sure that we can all get through this okay.
The Editorial Board is a weekly Opinions article representing the view of the Campus Times, co-written by Editor-in-Chief Wil Aiken, Publisher An Nguyen, Managing Editor Efua Agyare-Kumi, and Opinions Editor Hailie Higgins.