Loyola students woke up to an email from Loyola’s Office of the President March 12 informing them classes would be moved online for the rest of the semester and the dorms needed to be vacated in a week to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Students are expected to be out of the dorms by the end of the day Thursday, March 19, just three days after Illinois decided to close all restaurants and bars.
While moving out is a tough job on its own, there was some extra baggage this time around. David Binkley, a first-year studying secondary education and history living in Simpson Living-Learning Center, was faced with the task of keeping up with classwork in addition to packing up to head home to Dixon, Illinois.
“We have classes while we have to move out,” Binkley, 19, said Monday. “I have a class at 12:35 today but I have to move out.”
Loyola’s instructors whose classes were already online were told March 13 to continue classes as usual while students were moving off-campus.
The move has been filled with farewells as first-years say goodbye to the new friends they made in their shortened first year at Loyola.
“It’s very sad because you have to say bye to everyone so suddenly,” Binkley said. “I’ve cried like 10 times. It’s hard to watch everyone go one by one.”
Kayla Soldi, a first-year studying sociology living in Simpson Living-Learning Center, said she didn’t see the sudden shift coming and was saddened she didn’t have more time with her friends.
“It definitely came out of nowhere, I thought I had two more months with these people,” Soldi, 19, said. “I live far from all my friends here.”
Soldi, a Boston native, said she was thankful for how easily she could change the dates to store her belongings.
“[Storage] is easier than having to worry about driving here or trying to fit everything on a plane,” Soldi said. “I was going to do this in May but they made it easy to switch over to now which I thought was helpful.”
However, not everyone found the same ease with storing their possessions. Andrea Martino, a sophomore at Loyola studying criminology, said she had friends that were struggling to find storage units.
“I’m okay with the online classes but it sucks that they’re kicking us out,” Martino, 19, said Thursday. “I have friends from New York that are scrambling to find storage units.”
Loyola usually partners with University and Student Services (USS) to provide students a way to store their possessions between the spring and fall semesters. The university contacted USS the same day it announced students would have to vacate the dorms, according to USS President Vin Peseski.
USS will be providing storage service until the fall semester for the same rates normally charged for summer storage. The company will also be stationed in the Simpson Living-Learning Center multipurpose room through Thursday handing out boxes students can use for their storage services.
Outside of the university, U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage to college students that are being displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In another measure to make the transition easier for students, residence life staff members are aiding on-campus residents with their moves as well as handling items donated by residents leaving campus.
Evan Baehr, a senior studying environmental science and residence life staff member tasked with helping students move furniture, said residence life employees found out about the early move-out plans when everyone else did.
“We had as much warning as anyone else did,” Baehr, 21, said. “We woke up to the same email.”
Baehr, who has an off-campus apartment, stuck around to help others move out, albeit cautiously — wearing protective gloves to handle donated items in the foyer of Simpson Living-Learning Center.
“If there’s a job to be done I might as well stay,” Baehr said.