I’m pleased to see versions of the dorm re-purposing proposal that my brother and I made back in March being considered and adopted in a variety of places.
Obviously, we weren’t the first or only people to have come up with the idea. This piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education preceded mine. So did this one on ABC News. Here’s a more recent piece making a similar case in The Nation. Another one regarding universities in the San Diego area. This piece by a University of Portland undergraduate closely resembles our proposal.
Some repurposing proposals have already been adopted. Here’s a list of Boston area schools that are re-purposing dorms. Lehigh Valley schools in eastern Pennsylvania. NYU and Tufts, mentioned in Slate. University of Wisconsin at Madison. University of Mount Union, near Cleveland. Utah State University, providing isolation housing for COVID-positive patients.
To the best of my knowledge, the only New Jersey institution to have adopted the proposal so far is Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. I made the case a few weeks ago to administrators at Felician, who told me that a proposal was under serious consideration there, probably on our Rutherford campus.
I don’t know what monetary arrangements, if any, have been worked out for the use of university dorms, but you can be certain that cleaning and disinfecting after use will be a major expense. I assume it’ll be covered by the relevant State, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I’m also curious whether students (originally so cavalier about COVID) will be reluctant (on alief-like grounds) to move back into dorms that were used by COVID-positive occupants. Though it’d be interesting to find out, I’m actually going to make the case to admin that, insofar as possible, we keep instruction online for fall semester, not because I like online teaching (I’ve always hated it) but because it seems safer to do so. August seems a long way off, but isn’t. (Yes, admin finds me a joy.)