New NAU housing situation leaves students stressed

With school back in session amid the pandemic, many universities like the University of Delaware, among a long list of others, have already had to shut down. Some students decided not to come back to campus at all, yet, students are still participating in some in-person classes and Zoom classes, which are inconvenient.

On Sept. 16, the residents of Campus Heights were emailed and told they would be required to move out to accommodate isolation housing between Sept. 25 and 27. Students were given new room assignments along with a rent reduction and a $300 refund. There were also moving companies provided for no additional cost, as well as four boxes per student. 

Although the university did provide some form of compensation for this incredibly sudden and stressful situation for students, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that many were unprepared for this to happen and were thrown into a less-than-ideal situation due to the school’s lack of planning. 

As someone who lived in a Campus Heights apartment with two other roommates, I was also surprised by all of this information and was assigned a new room in McDonald Hall, which has a similar layout to Campus Heights.

However, the big difference that caused my roommates to choose to cancel their housing altogether is we will be placed with random roommates in one bedroom for three people. This is a drastic change in privacy and comfort that no one signed up for when choosing their housing this year. But the options were slim: either move into McDonald Hall or go home.

Needless to say, it appears NAU planned this school year poorly. Inconvenient and disruptive housing changes, along with still hosting in-person classes, which all but welcomes an inevitable spike in cases, indicates the university’s lack of care and foresight. 

As of Sept. 25, NAU is managing 226 cases, according to the university’s COVID-19 website. Although NAU has significantly less cases than other schools like UA, which had 2,000 cases since August, the university continues to put students in stressful situations like suddenly having to move from their planned housing.

According to the Navajo-Hopi Observer, a better example of mitigating the spread is UA’s decision to call a shelter-in-place order for two weeks, which urged students “on campus and in certain nearby geographical areas to only go out for essentials, medical appointments or classes that are conducted in-person.” 

Although UA is considering opening another quarantine building, they explored other options like sheltering in place that took their students’ convenience and safety into concern first, according to theNavajo-Hopi Observer

The lack of consideration for NAU students is saddening. This isolation housing decision has put many students in a confusing and stressful situation. Students have to decide if they want to stick with the offered change in housing or move elsewhere, all while managing their studies.

Many students are not from Flagstaff or do not have a car to leave campus if they live elsewhere. Therefore, the assumption from the university that students can simply go home if they choose to cancel their housing either does not take students’ different backgrounds into consideration, or is blatantly apathetic. 

It is understandable that at this time, some decisions need to be made for the sake of everyone’s health, rather than the convenience of few. However, this decision was placed in front of students with little notice. 

If not exploring other options to slow the spread of COVID-19, the least NAU could have done is let students know at the start of the semester that the university considered changing student housing and warn students to prepare for the scenario they now find themselves in. This was a situation with many flaws that could have been avoided had the students been given more time to prepare housing contingency plans. 

Even though this pandemic has dealt the whole world many obstacles, NAU needs to consider how these decisions will affect students. With no guarantee of an accessible vaccine soon, and the prediction of one being available in April 2021 according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, there is still the rest of the academic year ahead of us. NAU needs to be considerate of the students paying to study on their campus and be communicative prior to future changes that will drastically affect their student population.