“But we’re so scared”: UWL student staff member speaks up about COVID-19 and staying in the residence halls

Moushon+with+her+2017-2018+staff+team+in+Angell+Hall.

Photo provided.

Moushon with her 2017-2018 staff team in Angell Hall.

Sam Stroozas, Executive Editor

On Tuesday, March 17  Chancellor Joe Gow updated the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse community about the status of residence hall operation. In his email, Gow explained the issue of students staying in residence halls during the era of COVID-19.

Government officials are recommending no more than 10 people in a location at any time. Residence halls do not easily provide the ability for students to appropriately distance themselves. With this in mind, Residence Life has developed a move-out plan that will address the many needs of our students but most importantly, keep everyone as safe as possible,” Gow said.

In the email, he asked students to move out as soon as they can.  Although, if students are in a situation where they need to stay on campus, they must submit a request through the housing portal. Unless students receive approval for reasons to stay, they should plan to move out.

For some students, going home is not an option, even if feasible. Whether it is their physical or emotional safety, overall well-being or financial needs, the case is different for every single student. Some students have homes to go back to, and some do not. Even though UWL is permitting students to stay within reason, student staff member Juliette Moushon wants UWL to know that this does not change how scared students are, and how much they have now lost.

Photo provided.
Moushon with her 2019-2020 staff team in Eagle Maroon Hall.

“I am really sad that the campus is closing. It’s been my home for the past four years and I thought I had a few more months before I had to start saying goodbye to everyone,” said Moushon. “I also thought I’d have the opportunity to do so in person, to take pictures and tell my friends and mentors how much they mean to me and how grateful I am to have had them in my life.”

Moushon submitted a request through the housing portal and was approved, but explained that for some students, maybe this was not an option and they were forced to go back home and she was lucky to have been approved.

“While at home I would be physically safe, emotionally and mentally are a different story. I have PTSD from when I was in high school. I had, and still have really terrible depression,” Moushon said. She explained that she was approved based on her circumstances, but she does not know if this will be the same for everyone else who applied to stay.

“I know they’re (UWL) doing the best they can. But we’re so scared,” Moushon said.

She received approval on Sunday, March 22 from Troy Ritcher, the assistant director of residence life. In the email, nine stipulations are laid out of her approval.

  1. You may be required to move to a different room on campus
  2. You will be required to keep Residence Life informed if your plans change
  3. You will be required to inform Residence Life if your health status changes.
  4. Campus services will be extremely limited. Please refer to the UWL COVID-19 website for information about reduced or eliminated services.
  5. Service from off-campus vendors and mail/delivery services will be reduced or eliminated.
  6. You will be asked to restrict your contact with others.
  7. Visitors/guests will not be permitted in the residence halls.
  8. If you are involved with any conduct or policy violations, you may be asked to vacate the residence hall immediately.
  9. You will fulfill the obligations of your existing housing contract including financial obligations.

Moushon added that there is a lot of unknowns, and she feels anxious despite knowing that residence life is handling the situation the best that they are capable of.

Photo provided.
Moushon with her 2018-2019 staff team in Coate Hall.

She said, “Everything is being decided day by day. It’s so hard to stay patient. It makes the most sense to let people stay in their own rooms so people are spaced out but I don’t know what will happen.”

Heidi Anderson-Isaacson, interim director of residence life said that they hope to consolidate students into one hall, but move-out needs to managed and finished first.

Moushon has worked as a student staff member for three years at UWL. She explained that she has a lot of fear for the future, but more than anything, students need to support each other in order to get through this.

She said, “We are all so scared right now, staff and faculty included. But, we are all trying. It is important to try to keep that in mind and take care of one another right now.”

As pointed out, if UWL students decide to stay, their resources are limited. All campus buildings but Wings Technology Center (WINGS) and the Student Union will be closed. The Recreational Eagle Center (REC) and Murphy Library are closed. Students will need their Eagle ID to enter WINGS or the Student Union, and this can only be done Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Whitney Dining Center will be open for limited hours. Breakfast will be served from 8-9 a.m., lunch from 11:30-1 p.m. and dinner from 5-6:30 p.m. Meals will be served in to-go containers and there will be no self-service options. Students are encouraged to bring their food back to their rooms, but if they need to stay, appropriate space between individuals must be had.

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