University to implement single-person on-campus housing; Wildcat Welcome to be “reimagined”


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

560 Lincoln and Kemper Hall. When students hurried home in March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many left most of their belongings behind in hopes that they would be back for Spring Quarter.

Emma Edmund, Summer Editor

Northwestern will institute a single-occupancy housing framework, but cannot guarantee a virus-free environment, according to an email sent Friday.

Students, should they choose, can still live with a roommate. All residents will be charged the double room rate, according to the email. Yet new transfers, first- and second-year students now have the opportunity to cancel their housing contracts for the entire year, with no cancellation fee if done by August 1. Students must fill out a form by July 5 to indicate whether they choose to maintain or cancel their contracts.

Common spaces will have capacity limits, while students may lose Wildcat access to other amenities, which were not specified in the email. Meal plans will still be required for those living in undergraduate housing, though more flexibility will be incorporated to those plans. Service at dining halls will be focused on “to-go” options.

The email also encouraged people living in the Chicagoland area to live in their permanent housing if the situation allows it. All students who change their housing plans and receive financial aid were asked to contact the Office of Financial to see if their aid has been impacted.

Additional rooms and buildings will be used to house everyone, and will be updated onto the Residential Services website by July 14. Students who live on campus will be expected to follow the University’s COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing face masks outside of sleeping rooms.

Notably, though, the University wrote that it cannot guarantee any virus-free spaces.
“Given the realities of this global pandemic, we expect there will be students who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic who will test positive for the virus,” the email stated. “We anticipate that there will be cases of COVID-19 on campus despite our best efforts to control the spread of the virus and the University cannot guarantee a virus-free environment. Every student and family should consider this as they decide to return to campus.”

The email also stated the University had a limited number of beds on campus and limited off-campus quarantine sites. Should a significant number of beds be needed for this reason, Residential Services could then require Chicagoland students to return home.

Residential Services will send room assignments by August 7.

In a separate email to parents, Patricia Hilkert, the senior program coordinator of family engagement, said Wildcat Welcome activities will start after students arrive on campus, and students won’t need to do anything beforehand other than complete their Purple Prep requirements.

Events like March through the Arch are being “reimagined,” the email stated, and will not take place with parents or family present. Family Weekend 2020 has also been postponed to Spring 2021.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emmaeedmund

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