Yale College Dean Marvin Chun notified several first-year Old Campus residents on Sunday afternoon that the University would be moving their personal belongings into temporary storage, in an effort to repurpose residences for graduate and professional students in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In his notice to 70 affected undergraduates, Chun wrote that relocating graduate and professional students was necessary because they must be “spread out immediately” given the rapidly spreading virus. The new residents of Old Campus will have access to the rooms they are assigned to, as well as the common rooms of their respective suites, while they will not have access to any other students’ rooms. Students’ personal belongings — along with items in the suite’s bathroom and common room — will be packed up today and moved to temporary storage, Chun wrote. Items previously identified by students as essential will be sent before the rooms are packed up. It is unclear how many students will have their belongings moved into storage to make way for graduate and professional school students.
“With apologies for the very short notice, I am writing to tell you that the University has asked me to provide space on Old Campus for graduate and professional students who are unable to leave campus,” the email read. “Those students are currently in very tight quarters. For their safety, they must be spread out immediately.”
In his email, Chun added that he “cannot make any other adjustments to this plan,” since quick action was necessary. The new occupants will move into 10 empty rooms in addition to the 70 recently vacated ones.
Regarding other students’ belongings, Chun wrote that Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar is creating a “broad plan” to address the items students — whose dorms will not occupy graduate and professional students — left behind. He noted that he will share this information when it becomes available.
Graduate Student Assembly President Lucylle Armentano GRD ’21 told the News that she believes this decision is “logical” and will allow students to more effectively practice social distancing.
“What I can say is that I understand this move from the administration to help do whatever our community can to slow the spread of this disease,” Armentano told the News. “The dorms where many graduate students are sharing hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens are places where COVID-19 could easily spread and impact students and the broader community in dramatic ways.”
She added that they welcome any student concerns or questions so that they can “continue to advocate for them in this time.”
Stephanie Hu ’23 was among the first years interviewed by the News who wished they had received more notice. She said that everyone is making sacrifices and she supports any effort to help others at this time, including repurposing her room. She only hopes movers don’t lose any important belongings, Hu added.
“I, and most other first years who also had their rooms used, completely understand and support Yale’s effort to protect everyone from Coronavirus,” said James Leung ’23, whose room is being repurposed. “We were literally emailed this morning that our room was in the process of being packed up.”
Leung noted that this has been a controversial move in the eyes of his peers. He lamented that University administrators did not specify where their possessions would be stored or how and when they would be retrieved. Leung added that he supports Yale using his room to house someone in need but wishes there had been more communication and transparency.
There are 327 reported cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut as of March 22.
Updated: March 23, 8:46 p.m.
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