The University of Hawaii announced that the campus dorms will remain open, but students have already been packing up one-by-one due to classes moving online and fear of COVID-19.
It is unclear whether UH will provide refunds for students, and UH-Manoa Student Housing Services was unavailable for immediate comment. The website said information about refunds “will be forthcoming. Stay tuned.”
UH dorms can cost up to $18,000 for the 2020-2021 school year for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit.
Cars were lined up Friday at the back of UH Manoa’s Frear Hall as students lugged out all of their belongings, including suitcases, boxes of utensils and clothes, and small refrigerators.
Undergraduate student Elijah Davidson said he wants to get a head start to move back home to Wahiawa with his parents.
The 19-year-old said he wasn’t expecting to move out until the end of the semester.
“It is sad, but I’m pretty happy because I’m on-island, so it makes it easier to transition back home,” he said. “What I feel bad for is the people who live off-island where they actually have to figure out flights, and it costs more and it’s more dangerous because they’re exposed to everybody.”
He noted that it was a bittersweet feeling because he wanted the college experience of living on his own, but he understands “it’s for the best.”
“We have the idea like, ‘Oh, we’re immune to it, or if we get it we’ll just get a little cough,’” he said. “That’s not the case. You’re not just worrying about yourself; you’re worrying about the elderly and stopping the spread as much as possible.”
Hilo resident John Carlo Galamay, 19, had just signed his dorm cancellation papers.
“Since a lot of people are already moving out and classes are online, there’s really no need for me to stay on campus,” he said.
With $300 left on his meal plan, which can cost up to $1,800 a semester, he said it would be nice to have a refund for checking out of his dorm during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wyoming resident Mercy Hiddleston, 18, said, “Luckily, I’m flying out of here,” in fear of domestic travel bans.
“Personally, I felt almost trapped. … It felt like I couldn’t leave the dorms, and since I’m in the freshmen dorms, we don’t have a sink or anything, really, to cook with besides a microwave,” she said. “It made it really hard planning for meals with only a limited amount of meals with our semester plan.”
The UH dormitory cafeteria is open to students but changed its buffet style to takeout.
UH announced Friday that all 10 campuses will be closed to the general public, except for students and employees. Some students are trying to transition from in-person classes to online.
California resident Mikalyn Gogue, 20, said she is not ready to check out of the dorms because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus and bringing it home to her parents.
For now she’s stuck in the dorms with three roommates. She said her new hobbies include creating TikTok dances, painting and playing with toy “Star Wars” lightsabers with her roommates.
Stacks of garbage bags full of soda cans and water bottles flooded her dorm hallway. As one roommate opened the door, the stack accidentally spilled over. Gogue said she’s waiting for the pandemic to be over so she can recycle the cans.
On the first floor of Frear hall, there is a pile of donations on the ground from past students. Gogue said no one has even touched the donated items.
“It’s kind of hectic because a lot of us don’t know what to expect,” she said.