Campus residents face new COVID-19 regulations

Approximately 725 students are living on campus for the fall semester, a major decline from the 1,803 who were living on campus last fall.

Resident students are facing a slew of new regulations put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Those living in the residence halls are required to wear a face covering outside of their dorm rooms at all times and maintain a six-foot social distance from other residents.

Residents are not permitted to have family members or guests from other halls in the dorms, according to the “Guide to Residence Living 2020-21.”

Students are permitted to have one guest per person in their bedrooms. Those living in suites are allotted two additional people.

Residence Life instituted a new elevator policy. Elevators now have a maximum occupancy of one person per ride. The Guidebook strongly encourages the use of stairwells.

Students are advised to limit traveling and are expected to fully abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order.

Resident assistants completed fully remote training this year.

Glenn Cochran, the associate dean of students, student life & director residence life and housing, said it was a challenge for the resident assistants to complete the training.

“It’s important training,” Cochran said. “We’re doing it with a group of people who aren’t trained faculty members.”

Cochran added the professional staff took the technology teaching online course put together by the Education Technology Office this summer.

This course was modified for the resident assistants.

Cochran said he was not surprised by the number of students who decided to live on campus this semester.

“That probably was impacted by the people who I had talked to who were leaving in March, who didn’t want to leave,” Cochran said.

Cochran added the decrease in the number of students living on campus has “definitely” affected the University financially.

“Without the pandemic, we were projecting occupancy of over 90% and we are at 36% now. We would typically house at least an additional 1,100 residents for the fall semester,” Cochran said.

Residence hall living rates typically range between $4,320 and $5,320 per semester, according to the University website.

Due to the decrease in resident students, the University lost approximately $5.5 million, or more than what they would have typically brought in during a normal semester.

Cochran said this year, students were required to submit a personal medical plan of action, should they need to isolate or quarantine for reasons related to COVID-19.

“We do have a limited number of quarantine and medical isolation rooms on campus for students who may have extenuating circumstances or who may not be able to enact their emergency plan,” Cochran said.

According to Cochran, students in quarantine are delivered a limit of three meals a day when ordered online through Dining Services.

“Dining Services delivers to the outside of a hall, where they are met by a Residence Life staff member who delivers the meal to the outside of the students door and notifies the student their food has arrived,” Cochran said.

Cochran said he has been pleased with the way students have adhered to the new regulations.

“It’s not 100% all the time, but I’ve been heartened by the people that I see not only in the halls, but even on the sidewalks on campus that are clearly paying attention,” Cochran said.

Cochran has received a number of phone calls and emails from students who strongly support the new regulations, but have noticed some of their peers not adhering.

“I’m here trying to make this work, and it’s really frustrating when somebody doesn’t make it work,” Cochran said, summarizing the messages some students have left.

Cochran would like to see unity, and thinks students understand if they want things to return to normal, “It’s going to take everybody pulling in the same direction.”

Students who decided to live on campus said they have been pleased with the way the University has enforced the new regulations.

Freshman biology major Mackenzie Boyle said she is comfortable with the new regulations and notices how seriously the University is handling the matter.

“They really make sure that we follow the regulations. We’re not allowed to leave our dorm rooms without a mask. Even if we’re outside, if the cops see you without a mask, they’ll tell you to put one on,” Boyle said.

Arthur Doggett, a resident assistant, said RAs have been doing the best they can to correspond with residents about wearing masks and taking the right precautions.

“I believe that campus has supplied enough email correspondence, signage, and word of mouth. I think that’s probably where we’ve been the best – telling people to make sure that they have their masks on at all times,” Doggett said.

Doggett added from time to time, residents will slip up and forget a mask, but said for the most part, people are cooperating.

SGA President Olivia Beverlie said she was impressed by the precautions taken by the University, especially on “Move-in Day,” Aug. 27-Sept. 1.

“They did it with only five people per hour, so it made it really easy to move in and not have to worry about waiting to get a bin,” said Beverlie.

Beverlie added she believes Framingham State University has done better than most campuses at enforcing regulations and maintaining control.

“Weekly COVID tests on campus – that’s something we have that I know not all campuses have,” she said. “I think they’re doing a really great job.”

“I think that a lot of people were expecting us to get sent home by now, but the fact that we’re still here is a really good sign,” Beverlie added.

Some students said they were concerned about staying on campus this semester for reasons related to health and safety.

Andrew Cameron, a first-year transfer student from Rochester Institute of Technology, said this wasn’t the right time to stay.

“I didn’t feel staying on campus was the safest due to virus complications. Plus, all of my classes are online, so it just didn’t make sense,” said Cameron.

Nicholas Grimaldo, a junior biology major, said due to family concerns, he didn’t want to stay on campus and risk bringing home the virus on the weekends or holidays.

“I’m staying with my grandmother right now and would never want to risk exposing her to the virus,” Grimaldo said.