ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico is sharing how it plans to bring back on-campus living in the fall after students living on campus this past school year had to move out early because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university is waiving its usual requirement for first-year students to live on campus but is still offering the opportunity.

“We believe in a positive experience of students living on campus. It is disappointing not as many people will get to do it this fall. But we are making our plans so that we do offer a safer experience for our students,” Wayne Sullivan, Director of Residence Living and Student Housing at UNM, said.

In efforts to maintain social distancing, the university will be doing away with roommates, assigning one resident per room. Sullivan said they’re still working on some logistics, like how to address communal bathrooms.

UNM is also setting aside space for students who show symptoms of COVID-19 and may need to quarantine, or students who test positive for the virus and have to self-isolate. We asked UNM students if they’d feel safe living on the campus with these changes in place.

“I wouldn’t because I’m a ‘germaphobe,'” Rado Josoa, a UNM student, said. “I also tip my hat off to UNM for saying, like you know, one person per room, you know, and taking the proper precautions, but for me personally, no I do not (feel safe), and would rather just stay at home.”

Dana Hart plans to live on campus next year as a residential assistant.

“I feel as safe as I can get knowing that I have my mask,” Hart said. “I feel safe knowing that they’re going to be cleaning as much as they plan to do. Um, that won’t completely prevent it from happening, a student catching it. Hopefully, if everything works out that would be great if it did but um, I don’t know, just seeing how it’s worked out in our country right now, it’s going to happen. So, you kind of just have to do what it takes to be safe, but know that it’s, it’s still there.”

Students won’t have to pay more for living alone in UNM-owned dorms and Sullivan said they plan to make cuts in other areas to help make up for revenue loss.

Since living space on campus is limited, priority is going to first-year students and then to students who applied for a priority renewal registration. Students who aren’t in these two groups can apply for an exception request to live on campus.

“So, if someone has a compelling reason why they should be allowed to have campus housing, permitted to live on campus this fall, we certainly want to know about that,” Sullivan said. “As far as the students who don’t have that compelling reason that they can offer, our colleagues at the UNM activities center have a brand new website, so we’re certainly referring everyone there for that UNM resource.”

Students who do live on campus next year will be asked to agree to new responsibilities like social distancing and acknowledging that getting COVID-19 is a risk. Freshman students who will live on campus are still required to purchase a meal plan. If salad bars and buffets are still banned by the state by fall, the dining halls will stick to a to-go style and delivery via Grub Hub.

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