This story was updated at 3:00 p.m. to reflect information shared in an email to the student body by Alan Hill.
All DePauw students who would like to live off-campus or commute are required to apply for an exception to the residential requirement for spring term, according to an email to students from Alan Hill, vice-president of student academic life.
“Note that until you receive confirmation of your requested status, you should not make any plans for your spring living and learning situation, including external housing agreements,” said Hill in an email on Oct. 23.
First-years and sophomores who were invited to campus for fall term but chose to live off-campus or commute did not have to offer any explanation for their choice.
The DePauw contacted Alan Hill on Wednesday with questions which he then forwarded Thursday to Housing and Residence Life and the COVID-19 Task Force. As of Friday at 3 p.m., no one had responded. The DePauw asked Hill five questions:
- What reasons are acceptable for off-campus/commuter status?
- Will there be a limit on students allowed off-campus?
- What is the order in which you plan to phase students back to campus in February?
- How will you spread out student housing while ensuring space for quarantine?
- How will DePauw enforce COVID-19 guidelines with a far larger student presence?
However, Hill did email the entire student body to announce three upcoming Zoom meetings to address students’ questions. Students are invited to attend Zoom meetings based off of their current residency status. The upcoming Zoom meetings are scheduled as follows:
- Commuters - Sunday, Nov. 1 at 7:00 p.m.
- Remote learners - Monday, Nov. 2 at 6:00 p.m.
- On-campus learners - Monday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Since Hill’s email to the entire student body, Stevie-Baker Watson, DePauw athletic director, informed athletes that the residency survey due Nov. 6 is only for planning purposes. Students won’t yet be locked into their decision.
While many students worry about their health and safety if they return to campus, for some, the other reasons to return outweigh the risks.
Senior Destiney Davis isn’t sure if she wants to return to campus. “There are just unnecessary stressors that come with moving back to Greencastle during a pandemic and after this extremely divisive election. As a black woman I have to not only look out for my health, but also my physical safety during this climate.”
While she would like to be on campus for her final semester at DePauw, she thinks the experience won’t be the same. The only reason she would go back to campus while taking her virtual internship is to be with her friends, but she doesn't know if this will be possible during the pandemic. “I just don’t know if DePauw is bringing everyone back for the right reasons,” Davis said.
Junior Justin Pelley is excited to return to campus. COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask, don’t bother him. “I’ve already been doing these things as a remote student this fall,” Pelley said.
Pelley acknowledged he is concerned with the way that the school may rely on the community standards board to enforce these policies among students. He thinks the community standards process is ineffective and not taken seriously among students.
Sophomore Inchira Jabir, an international student from Morocco, has dealt with over a 5 hour time difference all fall semester as she took classes remotely. She plans to return to campus in the spring. “It’s mostly the time difference that can be hard sometimes, and I also think that being on campus will help me stay motivated to do my work,” Jabir said.
Despite planning to return, junior Prisha Ranjan worries about her safety on campus. Ranjan is a member of a sorority on campus and is expected to live in her sorority house with 40 other women. She feels uncomfortable with the amount of potential exposure that could subject her to. Ultimately, she says that safety regulations enforced by her sorority and the university could be a deciding factor on if she ends up returning in the spring. She believes that Greek institutions should not require members to live in their chapter houses.
Despite needing to decide their plan for the semester, the university has yet to offer details on when or how it plans to move students back on campus. The only information shared came from an email from President Lori White stating that small groups of students will be allowed to come back at the beginning of the semester.
This story will be updated.