The grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic on Yale and the New Haven community at large remains strong, and as such, the University and its students had to adapt move-in procedures to keep the community safe.
In a Jan. 14 email to Yale students registered to live on campus, Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd explained plans for spring semester move-in. In an attempt to prevent the potential spread of the virus from newly arriving students, the Yale administration made the decision to offer temporary housing to students unable to move in within the COVID-19 testing hours offered during move-in, which is 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Instead, these students would be placed in Bingham Hall and Welch Hall on Old Campus until they would be able to get tested. The News spoke to three students about their experience in temporary housing.
Garrett Frye-Mason ’23, a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College, was relieved to learn that Yale would be offering temporary housing to students. However, he found the process for signing up somewhat difficult.
“The administration, the University, did not provide us with much information on how the process would work at all. Even in the beginning they didn’t really tell us how to sign up for the temporary sign-in slot and then after, they didn’t tell us how we would actually move in,” Frye-Mason said.
Frye-Mason was eventually able to learn more about the move-in process when, a few days before his scheduled move-in date, Yale Conferences and Events sent him an email containing his assigned room number and a phone number he could call when he arrived.
He was not the only one to suffer from this confusion. Like Frye-Mason, Emily Brown ’24 signed up for temporary housing hoping to have a safe and coronavirus free place to stay the night before she moved back in. When Brown arrived at the gates of Old Campus, she was not sure where to go. While Frye-Mason was able to check in with staff on Old Campus, staff were not available to Brown since she arrived in New Haven at almost 1 a.m., having to use the provided phone number instead. According to both Frye-Mason and Brown, the University had provided them with a bed, sheets, towels, a refrigerator and access to a bathroom. However, both of their rooms lacked overhead lighting, and Brown additionally lacked a heating source and pillow.
“It was a bit of a surprise getting there at 1 a.m. and there was no light in the room and only one electrical outlet … I had a cellphone, so I just used my flashlight”, Brown told the News. “It was a bit uncomfortable because it was very cold in the room and then the bed had some really awful sheets on it, which is you know whatever, and then had one blanket and no pillow so I had a sweatshirt under my head and it was freezing … so it was just a rather uncomfortable night.”
For Elise Williamson ’24, who did have lighting and heat, the most frustrating aspect of staying in temporary housing was the lack of food. All three students had been told to expect that food would be provided; however, this was not the case.
While Frye-Mason was told that the food ran out before he arrived, both Brown and Williamson were told that they could order food, which put Williamson in a less than ideal situation.
“I was under the impression that food would be provided like even if it was just like freezer meals, but I got there and they said I could order food, which was fine, it was just kind of — as a low-income student I try to budget everything so that was kind of a surprise because ordering two meals for one day is a full amount of money.”
Other than leaving their rooms to go to the bathroom and pick up delivery from outside, they were expected to stay the night to avoid contact with others before getting tested.
While the living situation was less than comfortable, they all expressed that it was reasonable for the night. Frye-Mason was particularly thankful for the positive and helpful staff.
“The staff who signed me in were working really really hard and overworked so I felt bad for them, that they were doing so much,” Frye-Mason said. “They were both manning the phone lines and answering questions for everyone in temporary housing. They were also telling everyone where to go, signing people in, handing out key cards. Like I said, there were 10 people when I was checking in, so there was a pretty considerable line for that time of the night.”
Asymptomatic testing is available for students, faculty and staff twice a week.
Marissa Blum | firstname.lastname@example.org