How a university is offering single rooms to all students

Eastern Michigan University is offering students a credit to reduce the cost of a single room

Social distancing on campus means every Eastern Michigan University student who requests a single room in a residence hall will get one this fall.

Of course, the single-room guarantee—part of the university’s #EMUSafe initiative for the fall semester–doesn’t preclude students from requesting a roommate.

“We have heard from many students and parents about this issue,” President James Smith said in a statement. “They question how students can practice safe physical distancing when they have a roommate in close proximity to them in a residence hall room.”

Extensive and ongoing renovations have provided the university with residence halls it uses as flex-space while a dormitory or academic building is under construction.

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The university has spent $90 million renovating academic buildings in recent years.

Eastern Michigan’s single rooms typically cost about $2,500 a year more than a double room. To encourage single room occupancy, the university is offering a credit that will reduce a single room’s cost to just $100 per month more than a double.

Students will save $1,700 over the typical annual rate for a single room.

“We have stated that this fall semester will represent a ‘new normal’ on our campus,” Smith said. “We are modeling and preparing for several possible operating scenarios in order to be prepared, and safe.”

The university ‘s Public Health Work Group—comprising an Eastern Michigan epidemiologist as well as nurses and cleaning experts—will guide the campus as it plans to resume in-person activities.

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Eastern Michigan officials expect to add more online and hybrid courses, use larger spaces for in-person classes, reduce the number of people on campus each day, and install extensive signage that encourages social distancing and careful hygiene.

The university is also considering eliminating self-service food stations in its dining halls and limiting meal options to take-away only.

Single rooms at a smaller school

Officials at Sweet Briar College, a much smaller institution in Virginia, are offering students single rooms at no additional cost as part of the school’s “Safe, Spacious, and Ready for Fall 2020” plan.

Because of the small enrollment, Sweet Briar officials say they can also provide plenty of space for social distancing in classrooms and dining.

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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