DH Student Housing is Sizzling–for the Wrong Reasoncsudhbulletin October 8, 2020 0 COMMENTS
CSUDH housing facilities currently resemble a ghost town. Photos by Brenda Fernanda Verano.
By Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor
For Nat Ratcliffe and her dog Dodson, living in university housing has not been easy.
Ratcliffe, a junior public relations and advertising major, was already struggling to maintain a schedule and her focus due to the pandemic.
But her anxiety was compounded in the latest heat wage, because one amenity her dorm lacks is air conditioning.
Ratcliffe is blind, and dealing with the heat wave and not having air conditioning has compounded the stress of an already challenging semester.
“As a blind person, I don’t have the option to hop into my car and drive wherever I want in order to escape the heat,” Ratcliffe explained.
Dodson cannot guide or support Ratcliffe,a thick-coated golden retriever, if the heat exceeds 95 degrees.
“So imagine me trying to point all the available fans in my possession at him, just hoping he could be slightly cooler,” Ratcliffe said. She would up calling a family member who had air conditioning so she and Dodson could escape the heat.
”I don’t expect CSUDH or any other universities to shell out thousands of dollars on AC units, but when you live in Southern California, you’d think there’d be some sort of priority hand-in-hand with heating,’ she said.
In mid-May, President Thomas A. Parham announced that, “the availability of on-campus housing will be severely limited and require meeting rigorous thresholds for physical distancing.”
This was a message that University Housing did not take lightly.
According to Lesley Stevenson, associate director of Residential Life, a committee was formed to determine which students would be able to stay on campus. Criteria included if they were foster youth, housing insecure, were enrolled in in-person classes or had a job or leadership position requiring them to be on campus.
A maximum of 168 students could be housed in the one, two or three-bedroom apartments.
Student Housing, as with other parts of campus that will service students this semester, has implemented additional precautions to the university’s existing health and safety protocols. Some have come during the past few weeks in order to help prevent an outbreak incident similar to what occured to residential students at California State University, Long Beach. Since Sept. 8, all CSUDH residential students are required to self-screen at the beginning of each day, with the COVID-19 self-Screening app.
In addition, public spaces like the housing basketball courts and housing lobby remain closed and no outside guests are permitted inside housing facilities. The only public space that students continue to share are the laundry facilities.
Additional protections were put in place, according to Stevenson, by limiting each bedroom to one student, and no more than two people per unit.
Yet, even with these precautions, living on an empty campus can be challenging for many students.
Another thing that she has been struggling with is getting her groceries delivered.
Ratcliffe must call ahead to the housing office and inform them that a delivery is coming. Then she starts the long chain of contacting the driver to instruct them the way, then notify the office again to let them know the driver has arrived and finally make sure the driver can find her.
“Through no fault of any of the RA’s that might be on duty at the time, sometimes they miss my calls,” Ratcliffe said. “Then it’s up to me to blindly, pun intended, give the driver directions to the correct gate.”
As CSUDH plans continue with primarily virtual instructional for spring 2021, it will also continue with the reduced population in campus housing. For Ratcliffe, while certain things specific to her disability and accessibility are extremely frustrating, she does plan to dorm next semester.
“I want to help CSUDH improve in terms of accommodations and housing, I have ideas on what a more inclusive CSUDH could look like,” she said .
According to Stevenson, any students currently living on campus have an agreement, “for the whole academic year, they will be allowed to live with us until the end of the academic year in May.”
Students currently staying in housing have to sign the “CSUDH University Housing License Agreement Addendum” which stipulates additional terms that students must meet to live in housing during the 2029-2021 term.
The four-page licensee agreement contains nine terms and conditions that inform students on things like meals, mandatory community meetings, guests, safety measures, and common areas all specific to COVID-19 guidelines. The agreement also talks about refunds for cancellation or revocation and states that CSUDH will provide students with prorated refunds if any housing payments if students were not living in the dorms due to COVID-19 or any related circumstances.
The University Housing and The Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) have also prepared in case anyone in housing test positive for COVID-19, as has already happened.
In terms of precaution, an isolated building of eight single-bedroom/single occupancy apartments has been set aside for on-campus residents who have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive.
According to Stevenson, once students are in isolation they won’t be able to leave the quarantine space until approved by the campus task force. University Housing will work with students to make sure all their personal items needed for self-quarantine are transported to them. Large moving bins will also be available to students who need them, as residents can’t receive moving help from other students or staff in order to avoid further exposure.
“We would work with [students] on a case-by-case basis to make sure that they have what they need while they are [in isolation], everything we do will be through a contactless manner no one will be in contact with that student,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said the biggest priority is to keep students safe and support them.
“The safety of any resident is the primary function and priority of our role and that doesn’t change with us living throughout this pandemic,” she said. “We still want [residential students] to engage and reach out if they need anything, if they need someone to talk to.”
Students can contact University Housing at email@example.com
If you are a staff, on-campus student, or residential student and have been exposed to COVID-19 or suspect a possible exposure, call the COVID-19 reporting hotline at 310- 243-2076.