Approximately 20 Eaton Hall residents were required by University of New Hampshire (UNH) Housing to move to different residence halls to create additional quarantine housing amidst the ongoing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) on campus.
Eaton House, a residence hall in “The Minis” that houses 50 students, will be converted to back-up quarantine housing. On Monday morning, residents of Eaton Hall received an email from the UNH Housing Department saying they would need to move out of their rooms by the end of the week.
“To maximize the students we can accommodate, it is important for us to reserve back-up quarantine spaces in case they should be needed,” the email said. Students will be moved into another single in one of the other Minis houses (Richardson, Hall, and Marston), or into another single somewhere on campus.
“I am, but know a lot of people aren’t, being responsible and, unfortunately we have to pay the price,” said sophomore English/Journalism major Ashlyn Giroux. She moved into Eaton House, because a single was available and wanted to live by herself for the academic year because of COVID-19 concerns.
Eaton is the least populated residential community on campus and, according to an email from Housing and Residential Life, has the “ideal set-up and location” for back-up quarantine housing.
Students from Eaton House who wish to move off-campus will not receive a housing refund, said Rebecca Perkins, the interim director of Housing. “A safe and assisted relocation is what we are coordinating; Therefore, the option to move off campus instead and receive a housing refund is not offered,” she wrote.
Giroux said she was disappointed in the communication she received from Housing. After not hearing anything from Housing after the initial email on Monday, she along with some other Eaton House residents, called Housing themselves to receive their room assignments.
Giroux said the sudden move request negatively impacted her studies. “I had to email my professors and say, ‘Hey, I was just informed on Monday morning that I have to pack up and move out and relocate on campus in the middle of the week so sorry if I’m a little late on homework and discussion posts,’” said Giroux.
She also explained how many students needed to miss class because Housing was only providing moving assistance from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a time where many students have classes or labs.
“We’re not able to do work to our full extent because we have to figure out all of this, and it’s just very inconvenient and unfair for everyone involved here,” said Giroux.
Because UNH is currently in orange mode, residents cannot invite anyone other than the assigned Housing worker into the dorm for moving assistance. Dee Dube, residence hall director of the Minis, clarified this in an email to residences that students can help carry boxes into their own residence hall but they cannot enter Eaton House.
Due to an increase of positive COVID-19 cases on campus, UNH moved into the orange mode of operations on Feb. 11. This change moved all classes online and implemented increased restrictions across campus. According to the UNH COVID-19 Testing Dashboard, 1057 students, or 8.2% of the total amount of people in the testing system, are either in isolation or quarantine. Currently students living on campus who need to quarantine, or isolate do so in either Babcock Hall or Adams Tower West. By emptying out Eaton House, UNH is increasing the quarantine and isolation space on campus.
“The fact that we have so many cases on campus that we already have two big dorms full of quarantine and isolation people that we need to expand to have 50 more spots that’s kind of ridiculous,” said Giroux.
“Ultimately, having these back-up quarantine spaces available to accommodate the maximum number of students who might need them, is critical to the mission of the University. By relocating, Eaton House residents are directly supporting that mission,” said Perkins.
Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.