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Winter Term housing plans released, students must pack up rooms

With Fall Term coming to an end, students are looking forward to Winter Break—but for many, this excitement is overshadowed by uncertainty and confusion regarding Winter Term housing plans. Amid speculation among students, the Office of Residential Life released an email on October 26 that outlined what students should expect for Winter Term, and more imminently, for packing up and going home for break. 

The email states: “Items can be left in rooms, but must be packed, including everything off walls, out of drawers, all linens, etc.—regardless of Winter Term housing plans.” With the arrival of this information, many students are concerned about when they will have time to pack  up their rooms during the chaos and stress of finals week. 

Hannah Sheridan ’23 expressed this concern, stating, “It’s going to be super tough to make time for packing—it’s really a full multi-day process. I actually changed my flight to be later so that I could pack up my room.”

Hannah Frankel ’23 echoed these sentiments. “I’m pretty frustrated that we have to pack up and then unpack when we get back,” she said. 

For both Sheridan and Frankel, this news brings back unpleasant memories of the end of Winter Term 2020. “I understand why they want us to do it, but it’s stressful and reminds me a bit too much of everything that happened last year,” Sheridan said. “It’s very reminiscent of what we had to do before.” 

Frankel reflected on the events of last year as well, explaining, “I don’t want to have to scramble again during finals like last year. It was really stressful to have finals and have a bunch of essays due and then also have to pack up the room.” 

As part of the college’s communications about Winter Term housing, an October 23 email from Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston confirmed that the college will be reducing the number of students on campus in the winter. The housing capacity has been adjusted to accommodate approximately 1,615 students, the email said. This is a decrease from the 85% of the student body—or roughly 1,712 students—that the college said they would be able to accommodate for Fall Term in an email from President Steven Poskanzer in July.

Poskanzer announced in an October 27 email that the first week of Winter Term will be held entirely online as students complete two rounds of COVID-19 testing after their arrival on campus. The Winter Term calendar will remained unchanged, he said.

Some students are concerned about whether they will be able to return to campus with the reduced capacity. “It’s hard to know how worried I should be,” Sheridan stated. “Right now there’s just so little information about how many people will want to be coming back.” 

Frankel reiterated this thought, saying, “I’m a bit worried so many people will want to come back that they won’t be able to let everyone come back who wants to. What if I’m one of those people?” 

“Right now we just don’t have enough information to know, so that uncertainty is the most stressful part,” she added.

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