Northwest Residential Life is preparing for spring 2021 residents and room changes for next semester following an unprecedented time to live on campus as a student.
New residents come in every year, but with COVID-19 now influencing every aspect of residency, the University is taking extra steps to accommodate those coming in next semester.
Brandi Bix, coordinator of housing assignments, said she is expecting nearly 50 new residents for the spring 2021 semester. Bix said students are notified of their housing assignment and their prospective roommates via email. Some rooms throughout the residence halls have only one student, but with the new semester coming up, those who have a room to themselves and haven’t paid for the extra side of the room can expect a roommate next semester.
Bix said that spring move-in is different, since the new residents usually “just trickle in,” instead of arriving all-at-once like fall residents.
Generally during this time, or during winter break, there are also some students who move out or graduate. Then faculty like Bix have to pay attention to not only students coming in but also those going out.
Around this same time, students can switch to a more comfortable place if necessary or can request to room with their friends if possible.
With students switching around, some leaving and new ones coming in, it can be a challenge for faculty, especially this year.
“I would say it is a challenge every year,” Bix said in an email. “It is a domino process. You have to handle the students checking out as well as the new ones checking in, making cleaning and work orders a priority over break.”
Bix said none of the challenges for her office are really COVID-related and that residence halls themselves are taking on that responsibility.
“I definitely have to give the resident directors, student staff and custodial the credit in regards to COVID and how their processes are hindered by COVID,” Bix said in an email. “There have been several meetings in regards to how to make sure once a resident checks out to allow for their area to be cleaned and sanitized to allow the next resident to move in. What students should do before returning to class is to be mindful of what they are exposing themselves to as well as what they could be exposing their roommate to. We cannot be successful without the students help and assistance throughout this process of leaving and returning. This is the same no matter if the students are new to campus or if they were here for the fall semester.”
Bix said that there is not an unusual amount of room switches next semester, and she said it is normal for when students leave, the ones that stay switch around a little bit.
“This is great; it allows students to find a better fit with a roommate or location,” Bix said.
Bix said if students wish to switch rooms then they have to visit the front desk of their residence hall and set up an appointment with their resident director to see available rooms.
Resident assistants have to be prepared for welcoming new residents and helping them become comfortable within the “dorm” community, despite everyone else having a head start. Aaron Simpson, RA for Hudson-Perrin Residence Halls, said he will quickly explain the dorm policies, notify them of what the dorm offers and attempt to get to know them.
“The process in welcoming new students will be much like the process at the beginning of the year with all the freshmen, but it will be more quick and personal because obviously there’s not 80 new guys like there were then,” Simpson said.
Michael Miller, assistant director of residential education, said his office is verifying student housing and making sure spaces for new incoming students are prepped, sanitized and comfortable for the new residents.
“This means we are working with Students in spaces now to make sure the extra spaces in their room are ready for a new student,” Miller said in an email.
Miller said they are working to plan new resident meetings for students coming in the spring. Each spring, there is a meeting held in each residence hall for new residents to attend so they can get a good understanding of hall expectations and get to meet their student staff team. He said they are also trying to get all of this information out to new students.
“We want to let them know about move-in times and how to move in safely by wearing masks and thinking about how many people they need to help them move in,” Miller said in an email.
Miller said that the spring move-in is very calm compared to fall move-in, but there is also a lesser involved process to help acclimate students, so the faculty and staff want to make sure the new students have all the information they need and know where and how to get assistance.
Miller wanted to talk about something they are doing as an incentive during the spring semester.
Miller said that with the Hall Cup Competition, they are now going to promote activities with an attendance card. Residents of each hall can pick up their card at their front desk, and when they attend events they will receive a sticker on their card. With this, they can earn a prize, points for their hall and the chance to enter into a bigger prize at the end of the year. Miller credited Sarah Ellis, a student staff member, for the idea.
“We are really excited to get it started in the spring,” Miller said.
According to Northwest’s page about moving in or room switching, students have until Feb. 13 to select an open space in any residence hall to move into.