Students dorming at the College of Staten Island, Hunter College, City College, Baruch, and Queens College and have been evicted from the dorms to help satisfy the need for hospital beds during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last Monday, Mar. 23, students at CSI’s “Dolphin Cove,” “The Towers” at CCNY, Hunter’s Brookdale and 79th Street dorms, and Queens College’s “Summit” were told they had a few days to pack up and vacate their dorms in order to consolidate resources, reportedly so the locations could be used to house hospital beds if necessary. Students were advised to head home; those who couldn’t were told they could appeal to be moved to alternate housing at Queens College.
Students at the CSI dorms were notified through an e-mail late Monday night informing them they had to leave, and that leftover items would be packed up and put into storage.
“We appreciate your cooperation, and assure you we will do all we can to help you through this difficult time,” wrote CSI Vice President for Student Affairs Jenneifer Borrero in the e-mail.
“We were given trolleys to transport our things from the room to the car,” said Josh Dyson, a sophomore at CSI and a resident of Dolphin Cove.
There were reports that the manner in which students were evacuating were not in line with social distancing practices. “There wasn’t much order,” said Dyson. “I believe guests helping to move items weren’t allowed inside the dorms past the lobby.”
RAs and uniformed officers also went around the following day to remind students they had to leave, according to Dyson.
Students who were not able to move somewhere quickly, were told to contact a member of CSI’s student affairs office. Dyson was one of the students who had somewhere to go, and went home the following day.
At Hunter College’s dorms on 79th Street, students were informed on Tuesday, Mar. 24 via e-mail that they had to vacate by Friday, Mar. 27.
“I was really upset,” said 79th Street dormer Ally Poulin. “I was kind of alarmed how fast they expected us to move out,” she said. Eventually, Poulin was picked up by her father and she was also able to get home. As opposed to CSI, where people helping out were not allowed to come past the lobby, the 79th Street dorms did the opposite, and allowed those helping to come up.
Poulin described the situation on Thursday and Friday as “hectic,” with people packing fast and trying to move belongings with only one elevator. Social distancing guidelines were “thrown out the window.”
It was a similar situation for residents of the Queens College Summit dorms, the location for displaced students from other campuses. At 5:30 pm on Monday, Mar. 23, Queens students were sent a survey to be filled out that night pertaining to their living arrangements.
“I responded to it, selecting the response that stated I have nowhere else to go, and the Summit is the only place I have to stay,” said Angelina Metzler, a Summit resident. “I live with my parents who are a bit older and my father has a variety of respiratory problems, which makes him a very high risk individual. I did not want to return home and potentially get him sick.”
Metzler says the situation in Queens was erratic, and no one knew quite what was going on, to the point she was using Twitter to find updates.
“I felt like nobody, even those in charge, had any clue what was happening,” she said. After packing and preparing to leave, Metzler was told she was eligible to stay, but after doing the work to pack up, she opted instead to head home to Long Island.
Although many involved understood the need for such actions from the City and State amidst the crisis, they felt the situation could have been managed better.
“The way this was handled was incredibly poor,” said Corrinne Greene, a Brooklyn College-based student activist.
Student leaders at the University Student Senate and otherwise voiced their concerns with the nature of the moves.
“Students at the CUNY are being forced to leave their dorms into an uncertain and dangerous situation,” USS wrote in a press release. “Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Tisch James must protect the rights of students who are currently in freefall and have nowhere else to go and don’t want to risk infecting their family members if they are carriers.”
On Monday, Mar. 30, the CUNY Board of Trustees announced that students kicked out of their dorms due to the COVID-19 epidemic will be capable of receiving a refund.