Resident assistants scramble to move students out

Maddie Nolan, Staff Writer

Resident Assistants are a student’s prime resource for all housing and general college problems. The university’s closure of campus for the rest of the semester sparked many questions from students who had either remained on campus over break, went home, or lived a considerable distance away from school.

 “I did a mix of on-campus direction and remote direction. I had a lot of people ask me questions over GroupMe or just call me and I did my best to help them out electronically,” junior chemistry major Will Talbert said. 

This is his second year as an RA. This year he was in Newman Hall on the first floor, where he had 16 freshmen-residents.” 

“Emergency move out wasn’t something we ever brought up in training because I don’t think anyone ever had pictured this scenario, Talbert said. “However, we talked a lot about flexibility and adaptability, and news had been circulating for a few days, so I had been mentally preparing myself to move out or help other people move out early,” 

 He said he anticipated an announcement like this due to schools such as Indiana University transitioning to online classes for the remainder of the semester. 

Hayden Martin,a freshman biology major, stayed in the STEM LLC in O’Bannon Hall this year. Her RA, Kirt Laksh, helped aid her during the stressful time by offering advice and details on what was happening. 

“I came back to campus the day before the announcement was made because I had a feeling the university was going to make this decision the following day,” Martin said.

 She took home belongings before spring break due to other schools canceling classes. 

“Although the RAs were just as stressed out, and only knew as much as we did at the time, Kirt was definitely there to help all of us in the STEM LLC if we needed it,” Martin said. “No one was ready to move out. I think physically and even emotionally the process was stressful but Kirt was beyond helpful.” 

Senior theatre major Isabelle Rogers was an RA in O’Daniel North apartments for Leslie and Welsh. 

She had non-traditional students, meaning students who may be older than typical college students, or international students, but she also had freshmen through seniors. This was her third year as an RA, and she was on campus when the move out process began. 

“My residents weren’t freaking out, at least that I knew of. The non-traditional and international students I believe got to remain since USI was their home or they didn’t have the means to travel home,” Rogers said. 

Emergency evacuation has never been included in their training, according to Rogers. 

“I would have to say that it would be a crucial part of our training,” said Rogers. “However, I wonder if emergency evacuation should be a part of an RA’s role because we are students, just like everyone else, before we are an RA.” 

The university has agreed to refund students for every day they were not in their on-campus housing past March 22, according to their COVID-19 updates on the USI website. In addition, meal plans will be converted to Munch Money to be used by the end of the fall 2020 semester.

“I think it is very just that HRL (Housing and Residence Life) is reimbursing residents considering that they were kicking us out with no freedom of choice to stay and other universities are refusing and some are even mocking the thought of reimbursement,” Rogers said. “I, as a student, was very overwhelmed. And there were several times where I felt as though HRL showed me little grace or patience during my times of stress and concern.”