Saturday, November 26, 2022

Transitional housing and no isolation space: The ins and outs of fall 2022 move in

August 2, 2022
<p>Then-freshman Maya Salamey and her father in the elevator up to her dorm room on move-in day at Shaw Hall on Aug. 27, 2021.</p>

Then-freshman Maya Salamey and her father in the elevator up to her dorm room on move-in day at Shaw Hall on Aug. 27, 2021.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

If you’re an incoming freshman, you probably have a lot of questions about the current status of dorm life this fall. 

The State News is here to help you answer some of those questions with a breakdown of all the changes you can expect to see.

What is ‘Transitional housing’?

Transitional housing is a term used to describe the temporary housing situation up to 20% of new and transfer students will experience this fall. 

Incoming freshmen may be subjected to living with three people in a dorm traditionally accommodating two people or five people in the case of the Akers dorm, which regularly holds four people, until additional housing opens up.

Affected residential halls include Akers, Hubbard, Armstrong, Bryan and Wilson halls. 

The incoming freshman class would be the largest to enroll at MSU, causing on-campus housing to be at capacity.

Most students have been informed of their housing assignments and know whether they have been assigned to traditional or transitional housing, Residential Education and Housing Services, or RHS, Chief Communications Officer Kat Cooper said. However, this may change before students move in depending on how many students decide not to attend the university between now and the fall semester.

Every day students are informing MSU they will not be attending the university for a variety of reasons, Cooper said. 

“As that happens, it opens up a space for someone to be moved or reassigned and that continues to happen,” she said. “Within the first two weeks, we do something in housing where we confirm who has shown up and who is not and we identify open spaces that are available in the residence halls so that we can move people around.”

Students have also reported on Facebook being placed with random roommates or being placed in a dorm outside of their Living Learning Community, or LLC. MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen said that this issue has been corrected and most students are now in their respective LLCs.

“Once again, it's good to remember that 88% (of students) followed all the appropriate processes and were successfully placed together,” Olsen said. “We do have a few students that we need to work with, and try to evaluate communications going forward.”

Cooper said students are not able to switch assignments at this time with the exception of students living in suite-style dorms being able to swap suitemates.

Each student in a transitional housing assignment will pay a reduced room rate during that transitional period and students will be moved throughout the fall semester as space becomes available.  

A factor in the increased need for housing is due to the fact that MSU reinstated its second-year housing requirement. 

Students who live on campus for two or more years persist and graduate 2.5% more often and with higher GPAs than students who move off-campus after their freshman year, according to MSU. 

Due to the new requirement, MSU Live On announced in November 2021 that upperclassmen would be unable to live on campus during the 2022-2023 academic year.

“We certainly evaluate the process every year after it happens, and make adjustments for the following year, and I have no doubt that that will happen in this case as well,” Cooper said.

Can I be exempt?

Students may seek an exemption from transitional housing and the second-year housing requirement if they meet one of the following criteria: They'll be living with a parent or legal guardian, they'll be 20 years of age by the first day of class of fall semester, they're married, they're a military veteran with one or more years of active service, or they will be taking six or fewer credits during the semester in question. 

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If a student meets any of those requirements, they are automatically approved to live off-campus, but they must register through the housing exemption application. And, if the criteria does not apply to the student, they may still apply for financial or medical circumstances.

What about COVID-19?

In addition to the transitional housing, RHS will not provide quarantine and isolation housing for on-campus residents in 2022-23 either due to low usage. Over the course of the last year, there was only an average of 10 people using on-campus quarantine and isolation housing. 

There is no requirement to notify the university of a positive COVID-19 test, but RHS expects students who test positive to isolate themselves and limit non-essential contact with others, not attend in-person classes or activities, use takeout or grab-and-go dining/mobile ordering and contact medical personnel if symptoms worsen or do not improve. 

Students should be prepared, Cooper said, and bring masks and tests. 

“Illnesses of all kinds happen when you live in a residential setting that have a lot of people in them – transitional housing or not, COVID or not,” Cooper said. “So staying in the (residential) hall room and not going to class, using our policies … just practicing good hygiene like washing their hands, cleaning high touch surfaces frequently and staying up to date with whatever the CDC recommends for vaccination and boosters.” 

How are the cafeterias affected?

In regards to dining, MSU plans to be back at pre-pandemic levels, as they were towards the end of last spring semester, with the exception of late dining which was not offered during the 2021-22 school year and will not be brought back.

In order to avoid the dining hall closures and worker shortages seen last year, RHS is working to hire 100 new team members to ensure full service is provided.

As a parent, how bad is it really?

Parental reaction to transitional housing has been mixed.

Kate Randall's son Cooper was placed with his selected roommate in Mayo hall and has had a good experience with housing. However, she was preparing him for the possibility of receiving a transitional assignment or not being placed with his selected roommate.

1:37 "We just tried to be really open-minded," Randall said. "I think it's all just part of the college experience, but we're very happy so far with everything."

However, Isabella Djordjevski's son Robert was admitted for the spring semester but is yet to receive a housing assignment for the fall. After reaching out to admissions, Djordevski said they found out no spring admits had been moved up and that they should contact housing.

"We cannot believe a prestigious university such as Michigan State University would be so unorganized and uncaring," Djordjevski said.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said her son coordinated efforts to live with four others in the Residential Business College which is housed in McDonel but was placed in a transitional assignment with two other students he doesn't know in a double in Brody neighborhood.

"Placing him in essentially temporary housing will create chaos," she said. "Once you arrive on campus, you want to be settled where you will live so that you can start your college journey."

Overall, Cooper advises students to bring flexibility for their fall 2022 move-in. 

“Whether you're transitionally housed or not, there's going to be something different than what you were expecting,” she said. “Bring your open mind because something is going to surprise you and you never know exactly what it's going to be.”

This story is part of our 2022 mail-home print issue. Read the entire issue here.

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