On June 8, following President Sands’ announcement regarding fall semester operations, several students received emails notifying them they were not selected to live in on-campus housing for the 2020-2021 academic year.
According to the Virginia Tech Housing and Residence Life’s most recent COVID-19 updates, the first-year residency requirement was waived for the 2020-2021 school year and all previously existing housing contracts were cancelled following President Sands’ announcement.
In a typical fall semester, the university can accommodate 10,400 students living on campus. However, due to efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as designating quarantine areas, only about 9,100 students can be accommodated with on-campus housing this year.
The locations of the isolation spaces are not being released publicly in order to uphold the privacy of anyone who may need to take advantage of those areas in the future.
While some students were able to re-sign their housing contracts, others were not and were told to consider registering for the Blacksburg COVID-19 fall 2020 waitlist or look at off-campus housing options. According to Virginia Tech’s Assistant Vice President of University Relations Mark Owczarski, approximately 800 students were immediately affected by this.
“Housing did that sort of blanket-cancel and then sign-up,” Owczarski said. “When things got rebooted back, 800 students ended up being put on the waitlist for housing.”
While 800 students were immediately affected by the reduction in on-campus housing, approximately 30-40% of those students have already been taken off the waitlist.
“I can report that over 300 in the last 48 hours have been accommodated with on-campus housing,” Owczarski said. “One of the things that housing is trying to do is to try to accommodate particularly the first-year students in university housing. The 300 plus students in which we’ve been able to locate housing have been first-year students.”
The Inn at Virginia Tech and the Holiday Inn that were both used to house students after over-enrolling last year’s freshman class are both returning to their normal operations. The university is not currently looking into using similar off-campus spaces to house students for the 2020-2021 academic year.
“We’re very confident that we'll be able to meet the needs of all of our first-year students,” Owczarski said. “We’re also working with the returning students –– sophomores, the juniors and the seniors to help meet their needs in whatever that might look like.”
While this situation is not ideal, the university emphasizes that administrators are working hard to find the best solutions possible for students.
“We are working literally around the clock to meet the needs of all of our students,” Owczarski said. “The guiding principle of all of this, the rudder of this ship, is to protect the safety of our community and the community at large. To continuously flatten the curve, to continuously keep people safe in all that we do in a future that we can't even begin to predict.”
Housing and Residence Life will be hosting a live Q&A on Thursday, June 11 at 6 p.m. to answer any further questions, and Virginia Tech Off-Campus Housing and the Dean of Students will be hosting a virtual Q&A on June 15 at 6 p.m. to discuss off-campus housing for fall 2020.