As we approach the halfway mark of the fall semester, many students are surprised that we have been able to remain on campus and attend in-person classes at MSU. Amid the third surge of coronavirus cases in Gallatin County, rumors are buzzing across campus. The Exponent reached out to Director of MSU News Service, Michael Becker, to address a few of these questions.
Several students residing in Mullan Hall, a wing of the Johnstone Center residence hall, reported that they were asked to relocate to other residence halls on campus. Mullan Hall was rumored to have been converted into quarantine housing for students who reside on-campus and have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results after potential exposure. News of this relocation quickly spread across campus and raised several red flags, as the university did not make a statement or release any information about the Mullan resident relocations.
When asked about this particular rumor, Becker responded that, “Yes, Mullan Hall has been converted into quarantine and isolation housing for on-campus students. It’s important to note that this was a precautionary measure and that there isn’t an immediate need for that Q/I [Quarantine and Isolation] space. However, given the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the county, it was prudent to prepare ahead of those spaces being needed. To be clear, we have not yet used any of the Mullan spaces but wanted to have them available out of an abundance of caution. The students who were living in Mullan were asked to relocate to other rooms on campus. Roommates were preserved and in almost every case, the student moving were settled into rooms in halls that were higher on their priority list for living arrangements.”
On a similar topic, rumors emerged that students and employees had been asked to vacate their residences in Family and Graduate Housing (FGH) in the coming months. Speculation that these rooms and rentals will be vacated in order to make space for quarantine housing also arose. However, Becker refuted these rumors: “No. MSU has no plans to relocate residents from Family/Graduate Housing for Q/I housing. The university notified non-student residents in FGH that their housing contracts will end on June 30, 2021. The housing units are for students. They were not intended to be long-term housing for employees and non-students, although some employees have lived there more than five years. The decision was made to ensure that FGH is available to meet the high demand we’re seeing from students for on-campus housing, in line with MSU’s land-grant mission and its strategic goals of increasing graduate student enrollment. FGH was always meant for students, and the below-market rental rates for those units are subsidized by student housing fees. Redirecting them for student use was the No. 1 reason for the change.”
Finally, several students have wondered where exactly quarantine housing is on campus. That information is not available to the public, said Becker. “MSU’s quarantine and isolation protocols and practices for on-campus students are designed to protect their medical privacy while providing them regular care and support until they can return to their residence hall rooms,” Becker said. “Because of privacy and case management requirements, we do not publicize the locations of Q/I housing. MSU wants to make every effort to preserve the privacy of students who are temporarily staying there.”
Ensuring the accuracy of the information that spreads across the MSU campus regarding COVID-19 is crucial to preserving the wellbeing and sanity of all students, staff and faculty who call MSU and the Bozeman community home.