Students return to SIU campus with move-in modifications

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things will look a bit different this year

Move-in day at SIU Carbondale

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Housing on college campuses nationwide is going to look a lot different across the country.

Southern Illinois University students started the move-in process on Wednesday.

SIU student Evan Grove is a new junior mechanical engineering major. He and his family drove all the way from Rockford, Ill. for move-in day.

“Today is move in day and I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” Grove said. “They spaced it out good so it does not over-exceed the maximum and it’s making it really easy for us to move in and not have to have a bunch of crowded hallways.”

Freshman journalism student Jamilah Lewis came down from Chicago with her family.

She said she was happy to see the organization from the university.

”I feel like the school has been handling this pretty well, so it’s been pretty calm,” Lewis said. “It’s not too many people flooding everywhere.”

While the university planned ahead for the safety of families, Lewis worried for her health and safety during the school year.

“The thing that really worries me is that I know there’s a lot of Americans that defy wearing a mask, I don’t know if there’s going to be a lot of students that do that; because, for the face to face classes it’s required,” Lewis said.

Jim Hunsaker, senior associate director of Housing for SIU, said despite the pandemic, they are moving in 300 more students.

“Move-in is a monumental experience any way for students and their parents. But, moving in over a pandemic has been quite a change, from previous years,” he said.

The set-up of the dining halls will also not be what students are used too.

The self-serving days are over for now.

“The student can eat as much as they want,” Hunsaker said. “The changes we’re making to the process though is that students will not be plating their own food.”

Hunsaker wants to assure students that the changes don’t mean they will be trapped in their rooms.

“It’s not going to be a situation where all of our students are isolated and not having opportunities to interact with others,” he said.

All in all, Lewis hopes things get back to normal by the spring.

“The hope is just to be safe. hopefully it won’t be like this my entire college experience or any freshman’s college experience,” she said. “And that it will just get better over the years.”

On Wednesday, the University announced students are able to get some $1,400 in emergency relief.

The money comes from Governor JB Pritzker’s Emergency Relief Fund, and kids can get a one-time payment to offset financial hardships caused by the pandemic.

SIU’s vice chancellor for Administration and Finance said they invited more than 2,400 pre-qualified students to submit applications, with about 1,500 responding.

Hunsaker is ready to have students back on campus for the fall.

“We’re going to give our students a fantastic residential experience while they are here,” said Hunsaker.

Also different this year due to COVID-19, the university is only allowing a certain number of people to help with the move-in process.

“What we’re doing with move in is we’re limiting numbers of move in helpers that students can bring, so that’s limited to two people to accompany the students at a time. Unfortunately, we’re not bringing in all of the community volunteers that we’ve brought in in the past,” said Hunsaker.

He said every room will only have one person assigned to it and things are going to look different around the forms.

“We’ve enhanced our cleaning procedures of all the common areas that will be disinfected on a regular basis throughout the semester, we’re requiring all of our students to wear mask outside of their rooms and in the public areas,” said Hunsaker.

New students moved in on Wednesday, Aug. 12 and Thursday, Aug. 13. Also, returning students are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

The move was designed to be spread out over several days in order to encourage social distancing.

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