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Where Do I Go Now? Campus Closures Leave Some Students in the Dark

Alicia Collins ‘21

Arts and Entertainment Editor

When Merrimack students left for spring break, many planned for one whole week of relaxation away from campus However, as one week of break became two, then two weeks turned into at least a month, students are now not sure when they’ll be able to return to campus. 

Due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19, college and university campuses throughout the United States decided to remove students from campus. Many colleges have decided to close permanently for the rest of the semester while some schools continue to push for students to return back to campus sometime in April. 

It is understandable that colleges and universities try their absolute best when it comes to making decisions for their students. However, schools responding to the outbreak so differently, it can leave us  unsure of what their future will look like. When the outbreak of the virus first became a large issue within Massachusetts, Harvard University was one of the first schools within Massachusetts to immediately close the campus for the rest of the semester. Many other schools soon followed and made the move to online learning to replace physical classes. 

With Harvard and many other schools closing their campuses for the rest of the semester, it is a safe way to keep many of their students from possibly infecting other students. But, at the same time, not all students have places to go back to once campuses are closed. Many students depend on college campuses for housing, food, and even on-campus jobs. When campuses are now asking students to pack up everything and leave, some of those students may feel abandoned and not know what to do next. 

In response to this problem, some schools are aiding students that may need support. Many schools are allowing students that may not have a place to go back to, to continue to live on campus but self-isolated from others. International or even domestic students that may have a place to go back to but, where the virus is considered a “hot zone”, schools have also allowed them to stay on campus. 

Alumni from various schools have also reached out to help current students with their situations. In an article from NPR by Anya Kamenetz, she explains how at Tufts University in Massachusetts, as well as at the University of Virginia, have Facebook pages set up to allow current students to reach out for assistance from community members. Community members in response have offered housing, financial assistance, and frequent flier miles to get students home.

Merrimack College, as of now, has not declared whether or not campus will be officially closed for the rest of the semester. Merrimack plans to have students return back to campus on April 14,but that is always subject to change. However, the school as a whole has already put in place accommodations for students that may need assistance during this time. This is to ensure that students do not feel as if they are abandoned by the school. If students are in need of assistance they can reach the Dean of Students via email. Merrimack has also always pushed the idea of community and they still want this to continue even if it is done through an online platform. Apart from the online classes, The Office of Students Life is still running various activity programming virtually through the online program Zoom. This allows students to participate in fun campus activities and stay connected even when they are not physically on campus. 

By maintaining our community values as well as supporting students who need it, will continue to thrive even if it is done virtually.