On-campus students change living situations during COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Sonik | Daily Texan Staff

Some students have changed their living situations in UT residence halls this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A little over 3,300 individuals moved onto campus at the start of the semester. About 100 students are no longer living on campus as of Nov. 18, said Cynthia Lew, the director of marketing and communications at University Housing and Dining, in an email.

As of Oct. 22, UHD has processed about 90 room changes for students still living on campus since the beginning of the semester, which is about 64% more than at this time in prior years, said Justin Jaskowiak, assistant director for residence life at UHD. Jaskowiak said he has noticed a surge in the number of students moving.

“We’ve also let students know more about the process this year (because there are) more options … to move to a space that they might be looking for,” Jaskowiak said. “In another year, when the occupancy is at 100%, students might want to move, but we can’t move them.”

At the beginning of the semester, 68% of on-campus students were assigned to rooms with a roommate and 32% were assigned to rooms without a roommate. Now, an additional 5% of on-campus students are living alone.

“We are currently at about 45% occupancy in our on-campus residence halls and (are) accepting applications for the spring semester, winter break housing and the 2021-2022 year,” Lew said. 

Nutrition freshman Marley Fox said the process of moving out of the Jester East Residence Hall was simple and involved a few online and in-person actions. She said she needed to move after having conflicts with her roommate. 

“I, first off, emailed the housing department and told them my situation,” Fox said. “They approved me moving and sent me a contract release form. Really, all I did (afterward) was turn in my key. So easy.”

 

Porter Slack, an international relations and global studies freshman, said he switched to a room without a roommate to prevent potential exposure to COVID-19.

“I decided to move dorms because I’d been going out pretty often, and so had my roommate, and I didn’t want to expose him … (or) expose (myself),” Slack said. 

Jaskowiak said the option to change rooms exists throughout a student’s time living in the residence halls. 

“If that’s something a student is looking to do or wants more information on, they can always reach out to our office … (through email), and we’d be happy to help work with them or answer any questions,” Jaskowiak said.

Because room changes this semester are sometimes due to COVID-19, Jaskowiak said the department wants to work with students to have them move on a timeline that works best for them. 

“(We’re trying) mostly to help make those room changes a little more streamlined for students because they’re going through a variety of things, as well as recognizing that we can’t all get into a room together and hash out (decisions) … like we would other years due to social distancing,” Jaskowiak said.