While most people hoped that the novel coronavirus would be gone by the time the new school year began, COVID-19 has forced the University to make unprecedented changes to everything from classes to football to student housing.
Around three weeks before campus housing move-in, the University sent students who were scheduled to live in the Bryce Lawn Apartments and the Highlands Apartments an email informing them that they would instead be living in The Lofts at City Center in order to make room for COVID-19-positive quarantine housing.
Cait Powell, a sophomore majoring in math and economics, was planning on living at the Highlands before she had to quickly change plans to live at The Lofts.
“There were a lot of logistical things that I had to think about – like I had to bring my car to campus because I was moved off-campus,” Powell said. “I didn’t want to have to take the bus every day, which wouldn’t have been an issue if I were on campus, so I wouldn’t have brought my car.”
Although Powell enjoys her apartment at The Lofts, she was initially worried by the apartment’s poor reviews online.
“The Yelp reviews for The Lofts are like two or three stars,” Powell said. “A bunch of people have complained about mold and their cars getting broken into and all of that stuff. I haven’t really had problems with any of that but it did make me a little bit nervous knowing that I wasn’t on-campus and that I was living in a building with a bunch of people who weren’t students.”
Students moved to the Lofts only had three weeks to prepare for the change, but another group of residents had it worse: One week into the semester, the University moved students who were living in the Burke West residence hall to different housing, despite the fact that the students had already moved into their rooms.
“It just seems like the University wasn’t super prepared,” Powell said. “They moved us so close to when we were supposed to be moving in, and then they still had to move people even after we moved in. They just hadn’t thought it out, I guess. I had time to make adjustments and figure out what I needed to change and bring because I would be living in a different place. I feel bad for the people that didn’t have the time to do that because the University didn’t think it all the way through.”
Mary Czyzewski, a junior studying applied statistics and majoring in math and history, was set to live in Bryce Lawn this year, but found out via group chats and friends that she was being moved to The Lofts a couple of weeks before move-in.
Czyzewski said that although her housing situation has not been ideal, she knows how hard it must be for students who were moved out of Burke West.
“I’m definitely grateful that I got told ahead of time,” Czyzewski said. “I just remember how hard it was last year trying to pack up all of my stuff to go home when we got kicked out for COVID and I got the help of my parents. I can’t imagine trying to move your entire life by yourself.”
Czyzewski explained how despite being initially annoyed about her housing situation, she now enjoys living at The Lofts. However, she also said that there were a few instances of miscommunication and disorganization surrounding The Lofts and the University.
“I was a little irritated because living on campus just makes life a lot easier,” Czyzewski said. “But it’s only a 5-minute drive so it’s not bad. There’s been a bit of a snafu just trying to figure out how exactly work orders are supposed to work and everything I look at assumes that The Lofts have given me a student account and they haven’t.”
Noah Haynes, a sophomore majoring in creative media, was supposed to move into the Bryce Lawn Apartments in August but now lives at The Lofts, which are located a couple of miles away from the main campus.
Like Czyzewski, Haynes said that he has had some trouble with miscommunication between The Lofts and the University, especially during the first month of the semester.
“The communication between us, The Lofts, and the University was crossed,” Haynes said.
One such error in communication resulted in The Lofts sending out emails to residents reminding them to pay their rent, but those students had already paid for housing through the University.
“It’s weird because we’re a part of the University but also a part of The Lofts, so they didn’t really know what to say to whom,” Haynes said. “It was very at odds in the first month or so, but I think that everyone is trying their best.”
Haynes expressed his frustration over some aspects of his new housing situation – about not having a car, for example, and having to ride his bike on busy roads to get to campus. Despite it all, Haynes still enjoys The Lofts.
“From what other people have said, the apartments here are nicer than what they would have been on campus and we all get our own rooms and our own bathrooms,” Haynes said. “The only cons, I would say, is the commute… But, overall, it’s not that bad.”