At the end of last week, students were informed via email that Harding was suspending the retrieval of personal belongings from dorms for the time being. Over the last few weeks, students have been signing up for times to return to campus and vacate their living spaces. For now, however, students who have not retrieved their belongings will have to wait a while longer, Zach Neal, assistant vice president of student life, said in the email.
“We are cautious and deliberate with each step made in this process,” Neal said in the email. “With an increase of shelter in place restrictions nationwide, University leadership feels it is time to suspend the retrieval of belongings. In the meantime, please rest assured that your belongings remain secure behind a locked door in a locked residence hall.”
Neal apologized for the difficulties this may cause and encouraged students who have extenuating circumstances to email the Office of Student Life.
The move-out process has looked more different this year than ever before. Some students collected their belongings in the last few weeks before the University suspended the process.
“Normally, moving out provides a sort of closure at the end of the school year,” senior Abigail Curtis said. “This year, though, it was pretty jarring. There weren’t hugs and goodbyes from friends as we went our separate ways for the summer. It was just me and my parents in the empty dorm, loading the car in the rain.”
Before this week, some students traveled multiple hours to retrieve decorations, clothes and possessions from their rooms. However, roommates are the one thing a suitcase is not big enough for. Junior Olivia Nutt lived in Pryor Hall and noted the difficulty of being separated from her roommates.
“The distance from my roommates has been the hardest part about all of this for me, as I am sure for many others,” Nutt said. “The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t care less about where it is that I am, as long as I am living with them.”
Roommates and friends are now on opposite ends of the country, and some may never get the chance to live together again. This is the case for junior Sam Westbrook, who lived in Graduate Hall.
“Being away from my roommates has been hard,” Westbrook said. “We used to hang out all the time, and since being long distance, we haven’t talked as much. They are all seniors, so I won’t be able to room with them again.”
When students mout at the end of the year, resident assistants (RA) are usually responsible for thorough room inspections and procedures for the students living on their halls. However, the normal responsibilities of an RA do not apply this spring semester. Junior Jackson Duncan was an RA for Allen Hall and said he noticed how different moving out was for him this semester.
“RAs move out just as every other student in the dorm would,” Duncan said. “We cleaned out everything, filled out a sheet and turned in the room key. No one actually inspected anything.”
Before moving out was postponed, students communicated directly with their residence life coordinators (RLC) instead of first contacting the RAs. Kara Chalenburg, RLC for Searcy Hall, communicated with her residents via email, Google Forms and Remind 101 text messages.
“We still have office hours, and we are still answering phone calls,” Chalenburg said. “We still communicate with our students. We are still here for everybody. Everyone is just trying to find a new normal.”
For now, students who have not moved out of dorms are asked to stay away until being told otherwise. Neal said students would be communicated with on a weekly basis regarding the future plans to retrieve their belongings.