3/11/2020 Coronavirus, U-Haul

Following Purdue President Mitch Daniels' announcement Tuesday evening, one student immediately rented a U-Haul to pack his belongings and go home.

Dylan Sasser, a freshman in the Polytechnic Institute, said his initial plan was to fly home to southern Georgia today for a few days and come back afterwards. Now, he's packing up a U-Haul for the 14-hour drive home back to southern Georgia.

"Since they're making classes online, I'm driving home and taking all my stuff home and staying," he said.

As students leave dorms for home amid the coronavirus crisis, resident assistants plan for their future roles on campus.

“We are working with our Residential Life team to review expectations and assess needs based on student numbers and ever-evolving updates,” Director of Residential Life Christa Pazera said in an email.

The University has communicated in a timely manner with RAs, McCutcheon Residence Hall RA Andrew Culbertson said.

“We’re in the process of downsizing our overall campus RA staff,” Culbertson said via text message. “Given our greatly number-reduced student body living in University Residences, we are in the position that we want to look out for the safety of the staff and not have an excess presence on campus when we don’t need to.

“As such, we are currently undergoing an evaluation process that both relies upon UR as a whole and our individual (residence education and residence education assistant) supervisors to determine the members of staff that will be staying in their position until the end of the semester.”

An email Pazera sent to residential life student staff said student staff — including RAs, RHPs and REAs — will be reduced to 50 after March 30.

Staff members will not lose their tuition coverage for the remainder of the spring semester, according to the email, but their room and board, stipends and work expectations depend on whether the students stay on campus as one of the 50 selected positions.

Culbertson said the evaluation process isn’t supposed to have any bearing on RAs’ employability for the next semester, and they’re allowed to leave if they want to during these evaluations.

“Our responsibilities are definitely also still being evaluated,” he said, “but for now we are also going to be halting large gatherings and things of the sort based on health concerns.”

As Culbertson works with many students in computer and information technology, he noted that his floor already enjoys “lobby parties” with multiplayer games, which might be a possible opportunity for a group activity in the future.

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