Miami University President Greg Crawford sent out a university-wide email announcing the decision to move all face-to-face instruction online for the rest of the spring semester on Friday, March 13, due to the threat of the novel coronavirus. Three days later, Dean of Students Kimberly Moore sent out an email with the message, “We strongly urge you to promptly leave campus while you are able to do so.”
Since these announcements, Miami has gone from a residence hall population of more than 8,000 students to just 200 in three weeks, said Director of Residence Life Vicka Bell-Robinson.
Bell-Robinson said current on-campus students have been consolidated into three residence halls: Hillcrest Hall, Stonebridge Hall and Beechwoods Hall. Students reside in single rooms, and their swipes are used at Pulley Diner, the students’ only dining option, which now has an expanded menu.
Ethan Klein, a sophomore geology major, was moved from Withrow Hall to Stonebridge Hall after deciding to stay on campus for the rest of the semester.
Klein said the idea of traveling to his home state of California and a heavy course -load this semester both contributed to his decision to stay.
“I feel like staying on campus would help me focus better [and] stay on track,” Klein said.
“[Transitioning to the new dorm] was, of course, very difficult for me and everyone else,” Klein said. “Trying to finish my midterms, pack everything up, and move all my stuff across campus was a lot of work. It was stressful, but it went as smoothly as it could have.”
Like many students in quarantine, Klein said he has been trying to maintain a schedule that keeps up with his classes.
“I’ve mostly been keeping to myself,” Klein said. “There’s not too much interaction, but I know people that live here in Stonebridge, so I’ve met up with them a couple times.”
Klein said the empty campus felt a bit odd at first.
“It’s very peaceful and nice outside,” Klein said. “It’s weird how much better you can hear the birds chirping without the foot traffic. At the same time, it’s become louder with all the noises you wouldn’t typically get to hear.”
Eleven Resident Assistants (RAs) also remain in the consolidated dorms.
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Whitney Lai, a sophomore RA, was moved from her position in McFarland Hall to Stonebridge Hall and now has 13 residents she connects with virtually. Lai said she sends her residents regular emails about optional Google Meets if they want to talk.
“It wasn’t the best idea for me to go home,” Lai said. “My parents are older, and plus I get paid to do this.”
Lai said RAs were moved into the consolidated dorms on Wednesday, March 25, and residents arrived by last Monday.
“Everyone’s very confused about what’s going on on campus right now,” Lai said. “Like what’s open, and how they can get places.”
With there being so few students left on campus and in Oxford, Lai described the atmosphere as “very empty” and “a little spooky.”
Jannie Kamara and Brandon Small, both juniors and housemates still living in Oxford, had similar reactions to the empty town.
“It’s completely barren,” Small said. “It’s troubling to walk near Armstrong because it just reminds you of the situation at hand.”
“I love the hustle and bustle of campus, so now I’m not sure what to do,” Kamara said. “It’s sad.”
Kamara said staying in Oxford made sense initially, but her situation is slightly complicated.
“I’m scared because my family works in the medical field,” Kamara said. “[The decision to stay in Oxford] was an easy decision at first, but now my parents want me home.”
Small said the governor’s orders have made staying in Oxford the smartest choice for him.
“My initial plan was to wait it out,” Small said. “But then the stay-at-home stuff started, and it didn’t look like I was going to be home anytime soon. It got to a point where there weren’t very many options left for me.”
As the newly elected student body president, Kamara said she’s getting ready for cabinet elections, which makes every day a little different as she virtually meets with Senators.
Kamara tries to stick to her day-to-day routine the best she can.
“There are days when I don’t get homework in on time,” Kamara said. “I’ve come into the mindset that I’m doing the best I can with the circumstances I’m in. Right now, I’m just giving myself grace and allowing myself to be OKokay with not being perfect.”
To get outside, Kamara and her housemates go on walks around campus or do homework on Western Quad. They’re trying to adjust to Oxford’s new normal.
“It’s like 3 a.m. Oxford,” said Kamara. “All the lights are on but there’s no one outside. At first it was creepy, but I’m starting to get used to it.”