Opinion

STAFF EDITORIAL: Loyola’s Last-Minute Decision to Cancel Housing Was An Upset, But Ultimately the Right Choice

Zack Miller | The PhoenixLoyola faculty are changing the way they teach UNIV 101, a required first-year course, given the COVID-19 circumstances.

Some Loyola students ordered supplies for their dorms, some boarded their flights and others were already in the city when the university made its decision to suspend on-campus housing. 

Just 11 days before students were set to move-in, they were met with an email from Loyola’s Office of the President stating all on-campus housing was “suspended” for the fall 2020 semester.

At first, members of The Phoenix’s Editorial Board were frustrated by the university’s last-minute call to upend university housing and even now, life doesn’t quite feel the same with an empty campus.

The final announcement was, without a doubt, made far too late, leaving nearly 2,000 students previously set to live on-campus displaced. Whiplash came from the university’s ever-changing fall plans throughout the summer as students put money toward last-minute apartment leases, plane tickets and school supplies.

But don’t get us wrong, Loyola made the right decision. 

Today’s grim reality — as COVID-19 surges at universities across the country — presents a shocking look at what our semester could’ve been had housing not been canceled and classes not moved online

In neighboring Indiana, the University of Notre Dame offered housing to students on campus and in-person instruction for the fall semester. But soon, cases surged with the school reporting 471 confirmed cases among students and employees as of Aug. 25, according to the university’s COVID-19 tracker

Just recently, the editorial board at The Observer — the student newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College — put out a piece titled “Don’t Make Us Write Obituaries.” In it, the editorial board demands the campus community take responsibility for the outbreak so the paper doesn’t have to write obituaries on COVID-19-related deaths. 

This is a stark reminder of what could’ve happened here at Loyola. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill already scrapped its on-campus housing one week into in-person instruction, citing a cluster of COVID-19 cases among students, the Daily Tar Heel — the school’s student newspaper — reported

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Chicago, the influx of Loyola students living on campus from all over the country was bound to have caused coronavirus-related complications. 

According to Loyola’s Aug. 6 email, around 700 students from “hot spot” states planning to reside on Loyola’s campus would’ve had to quarantine for two weeks following Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order. As of Aug. 24, 20 of the 50 states are labeled as “hot spots” and visitors from those states must self-isolate for two weeks. 

Students getting sick in the residence halls would’ve been disastrous and could’ve even resulted in deaths. At the end of the day, the university made the right decision — but that’s not to say student’s wallets, housing security and future plans didn’t take a toll from such a late-in-the-game call. 

While Loyola’s final call for on-campus housing was behind the curve, its untimely decision will hopefully help Chicago flatten it.

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