Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention & Response

Communications

RE: Student Life Responds to Housing Petition

March 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic created challenging circumstances beyond the college’s control, including governmental orders, which moved Reed to make the unprecedented decision to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of the semester and ask students to return home. To address significant difficulties that some students faced, the college opened a petition process for on-campus housing. The Student Life staff provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.   

What were the criteria you used to determine who could stay? 
We approved all students who indicated that they have extremely high financial need, all students who have visa issues that would prevent them from returning to their homes abroad, and all who reported having a history of houselessness. We also approved students whose thesis work could not be completed unless they were on campus; thanks to the incredible work the faculty has done, this was a very small number of students. We declined students whose permanent addresses are in California or Washington State, as we assumed (unless they had other extenuating circumstances) they could use ground transportation to get home. 

Why can’t any student who wants to stay on campus do so?
In determining how many students could safely stay on campus, we had to consider space between rooms and the number of bathrooms per student. These factors directly impact  social distancing, widely regarded as a key factor in “flattening the curve.” We also had to consider our ability to provide basic services if a shelter-in-place order was issued by the state, or if/when the outbreak reaches campus. It was a difficult process, and we had to turn away some people, but our goal was to ensure that everyone had a place to finish out the semester.   

Why has it taken so long to make the decision to move students off campus?
Disruption and adaptation have been the waters in which we swim, adjusting constantly with the goal of creating a path for every student to safely complete the academic year. As government officials issue warnings and guidance, the Reed community has had to adapt quickly to the changing landscape. Cancelling in-person classes for the remainder of the semester was a last, but necessary, resort. This decision created a ripple effect that was felt across the whole campus, but especially in housing. Closing residence halls has created uncertainty for some as international travel warnings expanded, and domestic travel became increasingly unpredictable. The health and safety of our community, and equity and access to essential resources, guided our decisions while reviewing petitions for students to stay in campus housing. 

How many students were granted their petition to stay on campus beyond March 27?
The college received approximately 250 petitions and approved about 150 of them before the deadline for applying. We have approved another dozen or so since then.

What are you doing for students who have to leave their campus housing?
We sent this note to all students, providing a direct link to financial and other relevant resources.