The once-bustling residence hall at the College of Staten Island (CSI) is quiet now after the remaining students were told to vacate because a temporarily hospital might be placed on campus because of the coronavirus crisis and the dorm would be used to house the hospital's staff.
- LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus in New York City
- What We Know About the Coronavirus
- CDC Coronavirus Page
- WHO Coronavirus Page
"There's international students that have to make plans overnight and leave, like, it's pretty crazy,” said Jasmine Shaikh, who is relocating. “They have to leave immediately.”
Word that the college's two dorms would close came late Monday night with a knock on the door and through this email, sent to the more than 50 students — many with hardships — still living on the Willowbrook campus.
"Given the strict social distancing precautions that are necessary to slow the coronavirus spread and the fact that we won’t be returning to normal campus life any time soon, we ask that you move out of Dolphin Cove by this Thursday, March 26,” it reads.
The letter promises to provide housing at another City University of New York (CUNY) dorm for students who cannot easily find a place to say.
Nicole Agu from Nigeria is one of them.
"I don't have any other place to go to, I don't have any other family here because I am an international student,” Agu said. “So I'm just here on my own, and it's a very overwhelming situation."
Some of the students say being offered space at another CUNY dorm is not enough. They would rather be refunded part of their room and board fees so they could find a place on their own.
While they acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic, they say more should have been done to protect the student housing for the city's most low-income students:
"I think that there's been an eviction moratorium for a reason, right? There's a recognition that being asked to leave from your home last minute right now during a pandemic is not only dangerous but a massive inconvenience,” said Corinne Greene, a member of CUNY student government.
The CUNY Board of Directors admits the situation is not ideal but says the college is doing its part to help the response to the coronavirus.
CUNY says everyone who had been living in the dorms will be offered housing at Queens College, and that CUNY will even box and transport their belongings as well.
FURTHER CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE