Students at Waynesburg University may have already noticed some changes upon arrival on campus after an unexpectedly long summer break due to COVID-19.
One of the major changes affecting students pertains to the residence halls. New rules have been implemented by the University to keep students safe and limit the exposure on campus.
Rule changes in the residence halls include no off-campus visitors, only two people in building elevators at a time, social distancing and capacity in lounges and distancing in communal bathrooms.
One of the changes to the residence hall’s policy is the hours that students are permitted to have on campus residence guests visiting the dorms. The reason for this change comes with the attempt to de-densify the residence halls as much as possible.
Students may have visitors over until 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. Only two visitors are permitted per resident.
“By decreasing the hours, that’s essentially making less contact with other students. Keeping it at less hours is another way we’re making [the] tracing process a little bit shorter,” Matthew Pioch, director of housing, said.
When looking to update the residence hall visiting hours, Pioch said the goal was not to see how few hours they could give the student, but to see how many they could keep.
“These are the things we can implement, so that’s why there’s no outside guests. Essentially, it’s everybody that’s part of this bubble,” Pioch said. “In a lot of ways, we feel like we’ve constructed a visitation program that’s pretty lenient in regards to people being over and being present.”
Waynesburg University is built around the idea of community, and the new policies in the residence halls allow the feeling of community as much as possible while limiting exposure.
Along with the reduced hours, students will notice that no commuters or outside guests are permitted in the residence halls.
The idea of not allowing commuters in the dorms was to discourage students from staying on campus longer than necessary and to regulate the risk of exposure.
“We’re looking at everybody’s safety, and when we’re looking at time and exposure, those that are going to be on campus and need to be on campus, we allow them the right to visitation hours. Those that do not need to be on campus, we didn’t see a need for them to be in our residences halls,” Pioch said.
For commuters looking for places to go between classes, the Stover Student Center has tables that have been moved to the first floor so studying can be done there. The library is open to commuters as well.
It is also requested that everyone on campus wear a facemask when outside of dorm rooms. This includes when in residence halls’ hallways. Facemasks are also required when in the Beehive, library and other social settings. Facemasks may be removed when eating at a table in the Beehive or the dining hall, but must be put back on before leaving.
“We have to respect the global pandemic that’s taking place, so we have to make these changes although they’re not always the most convenient thing. We do believe these are offering the most safety for our students,” Pioch said.
To enforce these new policy rules, the university has placed sanctions, which went into effect Friday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m.
For a first offense, a $50 fine will be issued. If not paid within two weeks, it will be doubled. The student will also lose all visitation and guest privileges.
A second offense will have the student issued a $100 fine due within two weeks. The students will be put on disciplinary probation for part of the school year.
If a third offense occurs, the offending student must vacate the residence halls within 48 hours and work remotely for the rest of the school year. No refund will be issued if this happens.
The sanctions came after a noticeable increase in students not following the rules.
Before the sanctions were put into place, students were just warned about not following the new policy, but with so many students not following the policy, the sanctions had to be put into place.
“When we saw that numbers [of incidents] were increasing, probably three times the normal level, that’s when we thought we really want to get in front of the issue,” Chris Hardie, assistant dean of student services, said.
“We want our students to stay here. We want to finish out the semester, and that’s what the students want, they tell us all the time that they want to be here,” Hardie said.
The new policies on campus help with tracking any exposure to COVID-19 while also preventing the spread of the virus. Waynesburg University students are being asked to follow the new rules and policies as much as possible to help keep in person classes running.