In the wake of its decision to cancel classes until after spring break, the University issued a request for on-campus residents to move out. In a series of emails, students were strongly encouraged to return to their homes, away from the densely populated campus.
Surprisingly, the University did not issue a mandatory evacuation but listened to the student body’s concerns and created solutions for students unable to leave at this time.
Amidst the panic and chaos of the present COVID-19 outbreak, it would have been easy for the University to shut out student input, but LSU went above and beyond to provide students with real solutions for their housing concerns. Students were given the choice to stay on campus for the remainder of the term, or to move out before spring break and receive a partial refund.
Some students are unable to pick everything up and leave their dorms or on-campus apartments because of financial limitations or because of extenuating circumstances, and the University recognized those very pressing issues. There are a plethora of things to criticize about how LSU has handled the coronavirus situation so far, but in this instance the University got everything exactly right.
Food accommodations are also being made for students remaining on campus, alleviating some of the strain for those who lack personal vehicles or reliable regular transportation necessary to go grocery shopping. These accommodations include leaving the dining halls open for students.
The potential health threat of group dining facilities has to be weighed against the necessity of access to food. The myriad of factors which could prevent students from providing themselves with food all but negate the risks of leaving The 5 Dining Hall and the 459 Commons open. Keeping dining halls open could be a potential risk for the University, but the well-being of the student body continues to be top priority.
Not every amenity can continue to be provided for on-campus residents, but the University has already shown an overwhelming willingness to do as much as is possible. Ensuring that students have access to basic necessities—shelter, food and water—has been a major accomplishment for Residential Life during this crisis. The situation was handled with grace and genuine care for the student body.
The University should take this minor victory, because the next few weeks, with all of us transitioning into our new lives of quarantines and online classes, are going to be rough. With online classes on the way and most faculty and staff working remotely, the threat of infections on campus has been minimized, so the University should be able to continue focusing on assisting students.
As long as the University continues to listen to the concerns of its student body and prioritize the needs of the students, the on-campus living situation should be a sustainable practice.
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old classical studies junior from New Orleans, Louisiana.