‘No more roommates,’ residence halls respond to COVID-19

Wesley Tabor and Joelle Conway

Washburn’s residential living office sent out an email Friday, March 13, to students informing them that they should not return to campus due to coronavirus, COVID-19, concerns.

Additionally, the university is asking students who have alternative housing options to remain away from campus until further notice.

Washburn University made the difficult decision to suspend face-to-face classes Thursday, March 12, and began to discuss additional measures to limit any potential spread of COVID-19.

The residential living office asked returning students, from spring break, who must remain on campus to fill out a housing return form – and list their residence hall, dorm room number and reason to request to stay on campus.

The form also asks students if they traveled over spring break – and if so – where.

“I am on campus for my work at Stormont Vail and RA duties but it is drastically different,” said Luke Broeckelman, senior nursing major and room assistant for the Washburn Village. “The dorms are very quiet and most student interaction I have had this week is answering residents’ questions about the situation and their options. I am trying to stay focused on what I can control and help the people around me to stay educated and safe.”

According to the return form, residents have to be approved by residential living or the office of student involvement and development to return to campus.

“There are few people in the dorms right now – and I can confirm that there are no roommates,” said Atsu Lizuka, a senior communication studies major. “Washburn is taking measures against the virus seriously.”

The outside world, beyond campus grounds, continues to see the virus spread.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there are 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Kansas as of March 17 at 2:30 p.m. State health officials are urging citizens to engage in social distancing practices as these numbers continue to rise.

As part of the social distancing construct, no roommates will be allowed, according to the email. Residents who need to be on campus may be relocated to individual spaces as necessary.

The email concluded by telling students if they wished to pick up necessary medications, textbooks and other items to do so between 9 a.m. Sunday, March 15 to 5 p.m. Monday, March 16.

Any students who weren’t able to grab their items at this time should contact their Residence Life Coordinator to make arrangements, the email stated.

Residence Coordinators are listed below.

Living Learning Center Residence Coordinator Jack Van Dam explained that Residential Living is currently receiving updates from the CDC and KDHE regarding campus housing compliance regarding COVID-19.

“We’re very student-centered, student-focused and will continue to do our best to help students through this time. We don’t want students to be homeless or displaced,” said Van Dam.

The university is committed to keeping students informed during this fluid and constantly changing situation. For more information and live updates, visit https://washburn.edu/student-life/health-safety/index.html

If students have questions regarding the email, they are asked to contact Vice President of Student Life Eric Grospitch.

There is no comment at this time regarding a partial refund for housing expenses if students are unable to return to campus for the rest of the semester.

Edited by Adam White, Abbie Barth