As students packed up and eagerly anticipated move-in day, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced in a last-minute email that classes were to go fully virtual for the fall semester, and the students were asked to not return to the dorms.
“Effective immediately, we are asking undergraduate students who planned to live in our residence halls this fall to stay home and continue their education with MSU remotely,” the email said.
Last October, Stanley announced in a similar email that a limited 2,500 additional single-occupancy residence hall spaces will be available to students who want or need to live on campus for the spring semester. Of these 2,500 spaces, 2,000 were taken.
“We expanded the potential rationale that someone could use to say that they had a need or a want to be on campus,” Assistant Director of Communications for MSU's Residence Education and Housing Services, Bethany Balks said.
Balks said reasons such as wanting to be around friends might have not made the cut because there are still a lot of rules and regulations that students are following for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although socialization is important for student’s well-being, other reasons took priority.
“Common criteria were the 400 in-person classes, so some students wanted to come back to be on campus for those," Balks said. "They may have found that they had more internet issues than they had realized, or maybe with a lot of family members at home it was a little more chaotic than they had expected.”
Engineering Junior Daquan McClean has experienced the said chaos firsthand.
“I had a lot of distractions at home, that I’d have to stop (doing) my work," McClean said. “For example, picking my little brother up - I’d have to pick him up right before or right after class. I’d be late sometimes, and he’d be waiting for me. I’d have to take him to school right before class, so I’d be very tired for class.”
The distractions continued for McClean even when his brother was home, especially when taking tests as he would always be talking.
Therefore, McClean has decided to live on-campus for the spring semester and recently moved into Bailey Hall.
Media and Information sophomore Joey Griffin, who lived in South neighborhood in the fall, shared similar reasoning for his decision.
“I just can’t concentrate at home," Griffin said. "Plus it’s better being here because you know people.”
The majority of other students living on campus seem to agree with Griffin, according to Balks, who said the most common rationale that was submitted to her office was the living environment not being conducive to students' learning.
With many new students moving back on-campus, extra safety measures are being implemented, along with pre-existing regulations from the last semester.
“There’s still the face covering and mask guidelines that are still in place," Balks said. "There’s still physical distancing and maximum occupancy."
All common areas in the residence halls have also been reviewed for maximum occupancy, with signs at each entrance stating the number of people allowed.
Students living on campus are also required to get tested for COVID-19 regularly.
“One of the biggest things for this semester is the early detection program, also known as Spartan Spit.” Balks said. “That went to a requirement for anyone residing on campus. Students will participate weekly.”
However, not all students seem to have been made entirely aware of the regulations.
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“Some of the rules that they told me I have to follow are (wearing) masks inside, overnight guests are discouraged," McClean said. "Other than that, there’s not really much that I know of.”
The university has not yet released any official statements regarding the number of open dorms in the fall of 2021 or plans to fully reopen.
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