UB urges students to not return to campus housing after recommending they move out by Sunday
Campus Living offering housing and meal-plan refunds
UB ordered students to not return to on-campus dorms and apartments Wednesday night, hours after UB President Satish Tripathi announced that a community member tested positive for COVID-19.
Some students were confused, as the order followed a Tuesday email encouraging them to move their belongings out of the dorms before the end of the week.
UB’s initial Tuesday recommendation that “those who are able to move out should move out” –– not including international students or those “for whom university housing is their primary residence” –– was paired with a housing intent form for residents to submit their move-out plans before Thursday. Now, in the most recent Wednesday night email, Campus Living Director Thomas Tiberi instructed students to “stay home for the remainder of the semester” and Campus Living will “secure” their belongings until further notice.
Even with UB’s updated recommendations, some students and families already made plans to pick up their belongings and return their keys. Still, UB is offering housing and meal-plan refunds (for graduating seniors) and student account credits (for returning students) to those who “opt to remain off campus,” according to UB’s COVID-19 website.
Muhammad Hamza Niaz, a sophomore computer engineering major, booked a return flight to Buffalo from New York City after UB’s Tuesday email.
“I literally got Hernandez’s email [Tuesday] night and was up all night trying to find a cheap flight to go back and pack up all the stuff I have left in my [dorm],” Niaz said. “Now I am traveling on a pretty much empty flight back to Buffalo.”
Niaz spent part of his spring break in New York City to visit relatives. By the time UB sent the email saying he shouldn’t return, Niaz was already on campus packing up his dorm.
Niaz said he was surprised by UB’s new instructions and said he thought the university’s order to stay home came “a little too late.”
“I am actually really frustrated that they’re confusing so many students and that their response has been slow,” Niaz said. “I am going to go back to New York on Friday and will keep packing everything up right now.”
Tina Articolo Hinsons, a parent of a UB student, said she was upset with the timeline of the university’s emails and thinks that UB should have enforced social distancing earlier.
“Now students are stressed to the max, parents have taken off work or booked flights to come and rescue their children,” Hinsons said. “UB claims it has been tracking this since January, yet it has made several decisions that put our children, us parents and the rest of the world at risk of further spread.”
Lindsey Cunningham, a freshman biomedical sciences major, is very “pleased” that UB is issuing refunds, but says she is concerned with the timeframe of UB’s updated plans.
“I know this will help lots of students out as we face uncertainty in the upcoming months,” Cunningham said. “I am just nervous about the short time period [students were given] to move out and how UB changed it’s recommendations.” “I luckily decided to move all of my stuff out for spring break just to be cautious, but I know many other students who are now scrambling to make arrangements to move out and are confused if they should follow through on their plans to come back to Buffalo.”
Elizabeth Napolitano is the asst. news editor and can be reached at Elizabeth.Napolitano@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @LizKNapolitano.