MRU’s plan to keep on-campus residents safe, isolated
By Noel Harper, News Editor
Students might not be returning to classes on campus this semester, but many are back on MRU grounds nonetheless, as they are tuning into the semester remotely from campus residence housing.
The university’s traditional move-in day was extended over a weekend to accommodate health and safety protocols in the wake of COVID-19. Specific residence spaces have been earmarked to isolate anyone who contracts the virus to limit their exposure to others.
Gone are the days of apartments shared by four people — the spaces are still being rented, but only by two students at once.
“If you’re placed in a four-bedroom unit, despite the fact that there’s only two of you in there, we’re charging you the four-bedroom rate,” MRU Director of Residence Services Mark Keller told the Calgary Herald.
Despite changes made in an effort to keep COVID-19 at bay, there are concerns that MRU’s residence facilities are not equipped for the pandemic.
Marcus Kennedy, an international business student at MRU, has spent the last four years living on campus while attending classes. While he is not in residence for the fall, he is familiar with the experience — one he says will be drastically diminished during the remote semester.
“I think the main reason people live on campus is the sense of community, building friendships [and] partying, to be honest,” Kennedy says.
He is responding to the new no-guest policy for those living in residence, in which no one from outside the facilities, nor those staying in other rooms, will be allowed as visitors. A $100 fine will be imposed for each guest, which Kennedy does not believe will deter residents from socializing.
“It’s just a monetary fee, it doesn’t change the behaviours of people living on campus,” he says.
While he is concerned about safety, Kennedy believes that more must be done to allow for social interactions, making a specific example of those residents with spouses who would be prohibited from seeing their significant others for months at a time.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is better decision making that can be had to prevent the spread of COVID, but still promote an environment [in which] people are comfortable to see each other,” he says.
For students living on campus, the remote semester also means tuning into online courses from residence and relying on the university’s Wi-Fi connection.
“The internet in residence has needed an upgrade since maybe even the first year I’ve been here,” says Kennedy.
“It’s fine until it’s not. Every once in a while it cuts out for five minutes, [and] that five minutes can affect the student while they’re in class.”
Kennedy says he hopes to move back into residence for the winter 2021 semester, and in the meantime will continue speaking with MRU resident advisors about their concerns.