Harding decided to give students the alternative to stay on campus once on-ground instruction ends Nov. 20 to give them a convenient option during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University announced the news via email earlier this semester. Students have two options: remain on campus from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19 and pay a fee of $550 or live on campus from Nov. 21 until the start of the spring semester, Jan. 11, for $950.
These choices are available to students living in apartments and those residing in dorms. Dean of students Zach Neal said residence life coordinators (RLCs) and housing locations have not been selected for those not living in privileged housing. Students in apartments such as Village, Cone and Legacy can stay in their current housings. The number of individuals who opt to remain on campus will determine the housing choices for other students, Neal said. If enough students choose to stay, Harding plans to provide a meal plan. If not, students will live in housings with kitchens that will allow them to cook their own meals.
Neal said two situations prompted Harding’s decision: COVID-19 directives, which aim to minimize travel and risks, and internet access, as some students may live in areas with limited or poor internet connection.
“Those two scenarios or situations then prompted us to look at the whole picture, realizing that it would probably just be best to not have to determine who needed to stay for what and just allow [students] the opportunity [to stay after break],” Neal said.
Neal said Harding was already contemplating the idea of allowing students to remain on campus over breaks, and there is a possibility Harding will continue to offer housing during the holidays in the future.
“It will probably look a little bit different, but we are looking at the entire year as far as when and how we offer housing, and we really would like to start being able to give students the option to remain over the holidays, if necessary,” Neal said.
Senior Nickolas Simpson lives with his wife in one of the Legacy apartments. Simpson said he chose to live on campus until Jan. 11 and was happy about the news, looking forward to a quiet campus.
“[Having] to move in at the beginning of the year and then only staying for a couple of months and then having to move out again … is just a big pain,” Simpson said. “So, it’s nice being able to stay settled.”
Debra Nesbitt, RLC of Keller Hall, said she believed Harding is doing well in meeting the needs of students and ought to continue providing housing over the break if needed.
“I think it’s wonderful that HU is doing everything they can to help out in such a crazy time,” Nesbitt said. “There are students that can’t go home for various reasons, and I’m thankful we can give them a home.”