From dining halls to homecoming, college is an experience, but this fall, the experience will be a little bit different.
Coronavirus is an unprecedented event and Ferris is implementing new strategies to keep students safe. One of the best ways to be safe is to social distance, which means that many classes have been moved fully online. In the classes that are not online, students can expect to see that mobile barriers have been installed within classrooms.
Dining halls have also reduced their seating by more than 50% and are working to encourage students to utilize the improved to-go options available in the dining halls. The University Center’s hours will also be changed and Starbucks, The Grill Pit, and Snack Shack will be open with modified hours as a result.
These changes may not be as difficult to adjust to as one might expect, because the total number of anytime meal plans that students are signing up for has decreased by 370, as of August 18, and the number of express meal plans has decreased by 611, according to Scott Rosen, the Director of Dining Services.
“Due to COVID, more students have online classes and will not be on campus to utilize the dining venues,” Rosen said.
Director of Housing and Residence Life, Bryan Marquardt also indicated that the housing faculty are expecting a 15% reduction in returning students from last fall.
Many previously common events on campus will also be changing. While RSO’s will still be able to meet in person so long as they adhere to the COVID safety standards, 5-Star Events and other popular events will all be virtual according to CLACS student activity specialist, Teresa Fogel. Many meetings that would have been held in the CLACS lobby are being encouraged to take place virtually or outside.
A change that some students may enjoy, however, is the new room assignments. In an attempt to continue social distancing and maintaining the safety of students, Ferris housing has decided to make most rooms into single rooms, going so far as to reduce the housing rates in order to encourage students to remain on campus. There are still some double rooms that students could choose to live in, but most students have chosen to transition to single rooms.
“We worked with all students to get them in the areas and style of housing they wanted,” said Marquardt.
He also explained that the Housing faculty expect the predominantly single room housing remain throughout the entire 2020-2021 academic year, after which they will evaluate the situation and decide how to proceed.
One thing that has not changed is the student hiring process. While it is difficult to predict how many students will be employed this fall, many offices are open to hiring student employees as they have in past years. Anyone hired will have the same workplace safety policies that are in place for full-time employees, so students seeking employment can be assured they will be as safe and healthy as possible.
“We have filled a number of positions for the fall and will continue to do so,” said Associate Vice President of Human Resource Fredrick D. Hayes.
In many ways, this semester will be very different for returning students, but the goal of the university is to prepare students for their future remains the same.