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Jasper Hall Closed to Returning Students for Fall 2021 Semester

by, Gabriella DePinho & Kyla Guilfoil, Senior Writer & Asst. News Editor

Manhattan College Residence Life has determined that no returning students will have the ability to reside in Jasper Hall for the fall 2021 semester. This has not yet been announced in a singular public message, but through emails to students who have recently selected their housing assignments for the upcoming academic year.

The emails were delivered after the Priority Housing Lottery, meaning that some students were required to choose a new room in either Horan Hall or Lee Hall. However, Charles Clency, director of Residence Life, stressed that students who had already chosen room assignments in Jasper were allowed to make new assignments without losing a residency space.

“The change was made after Priority Housing Lottery, which unfortunately affected several students who selected to stay in Jasper,” Clency told The Quadrangle. “However, each resident had a chance to be reassigned without losing their place in the Housing Lottery process. It would be more manageable to make assignments in Jasper after CDC / NYS Dept. of Health new (communal bathrooms) guidelines are available, instead of attempting to de-densify Jasper again.”

This decision references the recent de-densification of Jasper Hall, which required many student residents in the dorm to relocate to Horan Hall or Lee Hall for the remainder of the semester. Clency had previously explained to The Quadrangle that Jasper Hall is specifically concerning during the pandemic, as one positive case on a floor results in a full floor quarantine due to the communal bathrooms.

And while many students suspected Jasper Hall would be completely shut down for residency next year, Clency confirmed that was a rumor.

“Contrary to the rumor, Jasper is not closed for the 2021-2022 school year, however, Residence Life is currently not allowing rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to select assignments in Jasper,” Clency said. “Once MC develops a strategy on how we will populate the building under NYS Dept of Health guidelines, Residence Life will move forward with assigning spaces in Jasper.”

While it is clear that no returning students will live in Jasper Hall next fall, it is uncertain how many freshmen will reside there. The recent decision towards Jasper Hall drew attention to its neighboring dormitory, Chrysostom Hall, as it is similarly designed to Jasper as a communal, traditional dorm style residence. However, Clency explained that Chrysostom was not including in the decision because it is already designated for new and incoming students.

Clency also confirmed that no resident assistant positions will be threatened by this decision, saying, “This decision does not affect the resident assistants; their positions are secure.” Additionally, the construction in Horan Hall to redesign suite-style dorms into apartment-style dorms will not be affected due to this redistribution of residency, according to Clency.

This decision comes after a year of lower residency rates at the college, as many students did not return to the dormitories due to COVID. However, for those that were planning on living on-campus next semester, some are very disappointed in the decision to close Jasper Hall to returning students.

Kevin McGoldrick, a freshman accounting major, expressed having difficulty in finding a double room for the 2021 fall semester. McGoldrick applied for housing with just himself and one of his roommates from the original four-person suite in Lee Hall.

“As we had a late pick for lottery housing time, as well as due to the limited number of double rooms in Lee and Horan, we only had the choice of Jasper 5th floor for picking housing,” McGoldrick said. “Residence Life reached out to me and provided my roommate and I a choice to get into Horan. We took this option and were placed in a double room. I believe that the school should have provided all available rooms for those who were 2 people for the roommate lottery, as there were no options to pick for Lee or Horan.”

McGoldrick’s experience is one that demonstrates how the late changes to Jasper Hall resulted in unclear choices for returning students’ residencies.

“I received multiple lottery choice time emails, but each one crept later and later in the day, leaving my roommate and I no choice as the double room options in the school’s bigger halls,” McGoldrick said. “I understand that many rooms are designed to be four people, but there are variations throughout campus.”

This dis-clarity and chaotic housing experience is not singular to McGoldrick. Jack O’Donnell, a sophomore environmental studies major, also spoke with The Quadrangle about the inconsistencies in his housing arrangements.

O’Donnell shared that while he had to quarantine multiple times this semester due to positive tests on his floor of Jasper Hall, he still enjoyed living there and had planned on returning to Jasper next fall.

“We planned to live in Jasper because it’s where we always lived and our friends were going to live there,” O’Donnell said. “The closing of Jasper completely changed my plans. I feel that was really irritating to me and to many people who thought they had their plans all set up for next semester, who now have to change their plans and now less rooms are available in the other halls making it more difficult to find desirable housing.”

O’Donnell shared that now he and his roommate are attempting to find housing in Lee Hall or Horan Hall for the upcoming semester.

While the decision may have inconvenienced those students hoping to return to a dorm they enjoy living in, their plans come after a year of floor-wide quarantines in Jasper and mid-semester de-densification efforts. While students will now be filling previously vacant spots in Horan Hall and Lee Hall, Residence Life does not expect an issue with overflow residency applications.

“Currently, Residence Life does not foresee any overflow concerns regarding housing on-campus in the Fall 2021, but we are prepared to welcome such issues if they present themselves,” Clency said.

As Horan was used as a quarantine space this year, it is unknown how the move of more students to Horan will affect quarantine space or if the college will still need to use Horan as a quarantine space in the fall.

For now, returning students will need to choose housing assignments in Horan Hall and Lee Hall, and the future of Jasper Hall seems to be that of freshmen territory.

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