By Abigail Cloutier
Youngstown State University students living in on-campus housing were allowed to come and go from the residence halls until March 13, which is the same day the university announced its decision for remote learning instruction due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kelly Beers, director of university housing, closed off residence halls several hours later to any student not currently in the dorms until their instructed move-out time.
Students were required to pick an hour-long move-out slot for the week of March 16, and residence halls limited the number of people in the building. Students were also required to wear gloves during move out.
Although students were instructed to pack and move out the weekend of March 13, the Office of Housing and Residence Life made accommodations for students who cannot move off campus.
Thomas Kushner, a junior communication studies major, elected to stay in his position as a resident assistant in Cafaro House. As of March 19, he was still living in the dorms.
“My home has three high-risk individuals living in it right now,” Kushner said. “I am going to try and live on campus for as long as I can because I know that being in the dorm means exposing myself to a lot of things that I do not want to bring home.”
Kushner has been a resident assistant for three years and said he feels a sense of loss in his residents.
“Seeing so many people I care about just completely heartbroken about having to move out is really tough,” he said. “People are going to forget things and leave things and have to sacrifice things due to not having enough space or enough time to pack.”
Kushner said for freshman students, having to leave their new friend groups is especially tough.
“This is their first time building a community like this,” he said. “I hope that no one will be too discouraged and know that they will find this community again.”
Abbey Cochran, a sophomore human resources management major, had lived in Cafaro House since her freshman year and said when she was moving out, she was able to say goodbye to some of her closest friends.
“We saw each other outside with our red carts, and she came over and we talked for 20 minutes about how surreal this all is, and then I realized, I’m not going to see her until August because she lives in Minnesota,” she said.
Like many students, Cochran said she felt little closure when she learned she wouldn’t be able to return to campus.
“I didn’t know that the last time I was in class was the last time I was going to see my classmates, and I didn’t know that the last time I went to Stone Fruit or Dunkin’ was the last time I was going to see my friends,” she said.
Karleen Schroyer, a freshman graphic design major who lived in Lyden House, said she felt a sense of isolation after moving out.
“Moving away from my friends and boyfriend has been very hard for me. I went from seeing my boyfriend almost every day to not seeing him at all for I don’t know how long,” she said. “Not being able to socialize with my friends like I did at college is hard.”
Moving back home also changed Schroyer’s lifestyle in a short amount of time.
“Living in the dorms gave me the freedom that I needed. If I needed space or wanted a change in scenery, I could go somewhere; it was ultimately my decision,” Schroyer said. “Now that I’m home and leaving the house is limited, I lose a bit of that freedom.”
Despite a rushed move out and students’ safety and hygiene concerns, Kushner stressed how hard the Office of Housing and Residence Life has worked to maintain order.
“The response to this pandemic by Residence Life has been fantastic,” he said. “Students may be frustrated by the decision of a mass move out midsemester, but trust me when I say that that was not an easy decision to make.”
Currently, the university is processing housing refunds for the students who have moved out.