Due to COVID-19, many students have decided to opt out of living in Illinois State University's residence halls and get an apartment. It became a popular discussion among students whether they are leaving to go home, getting an apartment or staying in the residence halls.
There has been worry that students were going to be sent home and lose money or not get refunded for being sent home.
Therefore, a lot of students have left the residence halls to get an apartment in worry of being sent home and not being able to find a last-minute place to live. This has allowed the residence halls to not be at full capacity like recent years.
“We chose to leave because my roommate and I, as well as our families, felt worried about the rise of COVID-19 cases at ISU,” freshman elementary education major Giselle Menjivar said.
Giselle said that she knew there were safety guidelines in place within the residence halls, but there was only so much that the students really had control over.
“We still shared a bathroom with the other girls in the pod and we also were around many other students whenever we went to go get food at Watterson Dining. The biggest thing was that we felt uninformed,” Menjivar said.
Menjivar and her roommate found out that a girl on their floor had tested positive and they did not have a clue if they were at risk or not.
Being clueless about the situation of who had COVID-19 and who did not, worried their families even more. The feeling of worrying about who individuals are being exposed to was not comfortable for them.
“We chose to move into an apartment because we both don’t have good home environments to go back to. That’s why we came to campus in the first place,” Menjivar said.
"I personally felt that moving into an apartment was my best bet at being able to be successful in my academics while also having more control over my safety."
Despite not getting the true experience of her freshman year, Menjivar said she does not regret her decision of moving out of the residence halls.
“I don’t think I regret my decision. It is upsetting that I won’t get to experience my freshman year of college like I was expecting, but I think dorm life is just a fraction of the experience,” Menjivar said.
"I’ve made new friends virtually and around campus, interacted with [registered student organizations] I’m interested in joining, spent some time on the Quad and several other things that I looked forward to my first year in college."
Some people may not have left the residence halls because they are not informed of the move-out process. People may think it is very difficult and complicated, or they may feel that they will not get any money back.
The move-out and cancellation process for Menjivar was easy, followed by a short timeframe for her to receive her housing and dining refunds.
“The process was actually really easy. We just had to submit a cancellation request saying that we were moving out because of COVID-19 concerns. We moved out a couple days after that. We also canceled our meal plans on our move-out day,” Menjivar said.
"The refunds took about two weeks to come in. It was a prorated refund, so they charged for the amount of time we spent at [Watterson] starting Aug. 12."
For freshman criminal justice science major Natalie Ceman, she got an apartment without having any experience living in the residence halls at ISU.
“I was kind of afraid of not being able to meet people. The fact that it was even an option was a huge factor. I never liked the dorms. It was overall just the smarter choice for me financially and rationally,” Ceman said.
Ceman was originally going to live in the residence halls because it was the traditional thing to do when moving to campus as a freshman. She also believes that there were just no other options to choose from.
She said that she was not a fan of the idea of living in the residence halls and doesn't regret her decision of opting out. Ceman and her roommate are satisfied with their decision to choose an apartment over living in the dorms.
“I don’t regret my decision at all. I can definitely say I wouldn’t have chosen this route 10 months ago, but given the circumstances, I definitely think I made the best decision for me and everything has worked out super well,” Ceman said.