University prepared to handle prolonged COVID-19 changes

Students walk past Boston University’s Warren Towers dormitory. BU officials say they believe BU Housing will be able to accommodate all students if study abroad programs in the fall are cancelled and there is a larger student population on-campus. NICKI GITTER/ DFP FILE

With the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic evolving daily, many students are concerned about the effect it may have on the university’s plan for next year. Specifically, students are concerned about the cancellation of abroad programs and the university’s subsequent ability to house more students in Boston.

In the event that the coronavirus pandemic persists into next semester, BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that he thinks BU Housing will be able to accommodate students unable to study abroad as they had planned.

Riley wrote that BU has the space to host students who plan to stay on-campus, in addition to any who would be forced to stay after a study abroad cancellation.

“There are nearly 12,000 on-campus beds,” Riley wrote. “And we have additional options if the number of requests exceeds 12,000.”

Riley also wrote that it is too soon to make any decisions about the Fall semester, and that the university must continue to monitor the coronavirus outbreak before doing so.

“The public health situation has yet to be clarified,” Riley wrote. “And I don’t want students to worry about housing in the fall at this point in time. I’m certain we will be able to accommodate students’ housing needs this fall.”

He also wrote that the number of students who live off-campus will greatly affect the number of beds available to students.

“We never have had requests from every student to live on-campus,” Riley wrote. “In fact, we work hard to retain and attract students to on-campus housing.”

Riley did not explicitly write that BU Housing has planned for this scenario, but he wrote that they are always looking toward the future.

“The university’s continuity of operations planning takes into account all aspects of running the university and meeting the needs of students, including academics, housing, residence life, dining, etc.,” Riley wrote.

Siena Giljum, a sophomore in the College of Communication who plans to do the Madrid Internship program next fall, said she is disappointed with BU Housing’s reaction to the pandemic so far.

“We waited a lot longer than other Boston area-schools to hear about class moving online,” Giljum said. “I’ve been hearing a lot of different things from a lot of different sources, in terms of if you should come back to campus to get your things, what shipping or storage would look like if you weren’t able to come back.”

Giljum added that it would be helpful to learn about Fall semester study abroad being canceled early on.

“Sooner rather than later,” Giljum said. “Hopefully before the summer would be good, so I could plan well in advance.”

Katie Yao, a junior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences who was accepted to the Dublin Internship program, said that BU canceling study abroad for the Fall semester in a timely fashion is very important for her as a rising senior.

“I’m afraid that by the time summer comes,” Yao said, “or they announce that study abroad programs in the fall will not be going on, I may not even get the courses I need to potentially graduate because they will be full by that time.”

Yao also said that while she lives close to campus, she prefers on-campus housing and meal plans. She also said her financial aid could decline if she lives at home.

“I probably have to live at home if I don’t have a housing choice,” Yao said. “But then they’ll reduce the scholarship amount.”

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