The University of Indianapolis’s administration initiated a new mandate to on-campus residents this fall: no guests from outside the university would be allowed in residence halls or on-campus apartments. With all of the pandemic restrictions that left us at home and away from friends, dealing with more restrictions from the university felt overwhelming. This made some students feel even more restricted and isolated.
During the summer, restrictions across the state and country varied, and students were left wondering what the upcoming school year would be like. Would the university open back up fully? Would all classes be virtual? We weren’t sure, but we did know that we had signed leases and applied for housing and meal plans that we were no longer sure would be worth the cost.
University President Robert Manuel’s “Welcome Home” email, sent out on June 30, answered some of the questions about the fall semester but left some of us even more confused. The email addressed some housing concerns by saying that the residence halls would open, but students could choose to opt out if needed.
However, not all university housing is easy to get out of. University Lofts, Greyhound Village and College Crossing required special appeals to break the leases that students had signed the previous academic year. The email included information on just about everything from housing to dining, and even the move-in process, but what it seemed to lack was concern for students’ mental health, learning experience and finances. Tuition would not be reduced, guests from outside the university would not be able to visit and the information seemed cut and dry. Nothing emotional was attached, beyond acknowledging the pandemic.
On Aug. 10, five days before move-in, I received an email from my residence director, and what caught my eye was not the lack of volunteers, two person help limit or the tardiness of the email. What stood out to me was that “no outside guests are permitted at this time.” None. Not a friend who stays in another dorm or even your mom coming by to check on you — no one.
This felt crushing, like a complete disregard for my mental health and relationships. We are still able to go to in-person classes, visit other students living in our apartment buildings and residence halls and leave campus, but we are not allowed to have UIndy students from other residences over as guests? This made me question whether I wanted to stay on campus, and honestly I still do.
The restrictions do not feel effective, and that’s one of the biggest issues I have with them. We university students are allowed to travel wherever we want but are restricted from bringing people into our home— the home that we pay a lot of money for, the home that is OURS.
These policies were not included in the lease we signed last semester. My space is important to me, and I do not like when people try to impose such strict rules and regulations on it. I expect the basic rules: no command strips, no smoking, yada yada yada. But this feels like a restriction of my rights.
In the future, I hope a better plan is provided for us—whether we are having in-person classes, if those are necessary, food delivery services or even a certain group we are allowed to be with. Whatever that plan is I hope it is strategic, and most importantly I hope it makes sense.
CORRECTIONS: Oct.. 23, 2020 at 11:50 a.m.
The headline of this article has been updated to more accurately reflect the content of the opinion.