As 5Cs send students away, some grapple with where to go

Two male students embrace to the right of the image, surrounded by other students in a dining hall.
Students embrace in Frary after the news broke that the 5C’s are moving classes online for the rest of the semester. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

The 5Cs’ recent directive to students to leave campus due to the novel coronavirus has caused particular consternation for international students who face increasing travel restrictions globally, as well as low-income students and others who may not be able to return home or face various obstacles continuing courses at home.

To account for this, Pomona College, Pitzer College, Scripps College and Claremont McKenna College are allowing students to petition to stay on campus if they cannot travel home. All Harvey Mudd College students will be allowed to stay, but once they leave overnight over spring break, they will be unable to return to Claremont.

Mudd is strongly encouraging students to leave, however. Vice President for Student Affairs Anna Gonzalez sent an email to parents Thursday saying that all students who can go home should. 

The school’s move-out deadlines are also different — Pomona, Scripps and Pitzer students have until March 18 to leave campus. CMC students have until March 23 to move out.

Scripps and Pitzer’s petitions will be open through Friday, Pomona’s closed Thursday and CMC’s will be open through Saturday.

So far 150 CMC students have already submitted petitions to remain, according to CMC Dean of Students Dianna Graves. CMC has also partnered with a travel agency that will cover the cost of travel for high-need students who qualify.

Scripps International Community mentor Airi Sugihara SC ’22, who is from Japan, which is under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 2 threat level, is petitioning to stay on campus because she could face travel restrictions upon returning.

“I’m feeling a little bit lost because of this whole coronavirus thing,” she said, “and I’m confused because I don’t know when this whole pandemic will end.” 

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“My parents want me to stay because they don’t want me to not be [allowed to return] next semester,” Sugihara added.

Selena Lopez PO ’22, a first-generation, low-income student, said she’s “very fortunate” that she has a home to return to. 

“But the sense of eviction for other people is a lot more serious,” Lopez said. “I just hope that Pomona can definitely offer support to those students.”

Some students have also offered in Facebook groups to open their homes to students who are not able to return home.

For some international students, traveling home means moving back to far different time zones. 

At Scripps, all students were instructed to participate in online courses at their scheduled times, regardless of their home time zone. 

The policy is the same at Pomona, but classes will also be recorded for those who cannot participate, administrators told resident advisors Wednesday night. CMC will also record its classes, spokesperson Gilien Silsby told TSL via email. 

Pitzer spokesperson Anna Chang told TSL Friday that the college’s professors will decide individually how to manage the time differences — some will record their classes, some will continue to hold them in real time, while some will do both.

Harvey Mudd has not yet clarified to TSL how they will address the time change.

“Some people will have classes at two or three in the morning, which will be tough,” Gunn Phikrohkit PZ ’22, president of Pitzer International Students Association, said via message. “I personally feel that professors and students will have to work together to figure out a time that works for everyone.”

A dumpster with a sign reading "Recycling Only" sits on the lawn.
Harvey Mudd college quickly place dumpsters on campus following the announcement that students need to be out of the dorms by Wed. March 18. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

Normally, international students in the U.S. could lose their visa status if they took online classes, but the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would make an exception given the coronavirus situation.

Students remaining on campus will be consolidated into a smaller number of residence halls optimized for social distancing and containing the spread of the virus, according to administrators and FAQs.

At a forum Thursday night, Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson warned that the campus climate would shift significantly after March 18.

“Buildings will be locked, many offices will be functioning remotely,” Hinkson said. 

She added that students’ swipe access to residence halls other than their own, as well as shared consortium resources, would begin to be curtailed Friday.

“It will not be an environment of gatherings,” she said.

Graves echoed the extent to which students remaining on campus will see dramatic changes.

“It’s going to be a very limited experience. There aren’t going to be registered events … It’s going to feel very, very different.” 

“It will not be an environment of gatherings.”

–Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson

For meals, Frary Dining Hall will be open through March 22, and Collins Dining Hall will close March 14 and reopen March 23, according to CMC President Hiram Chodosh. 

Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons will be open through at least March 18, according to Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver.

McConnell Dining Hall will be closed after dinner on March 13, according to Oliver.

Beyond that, though, the schools have yet to announce their dining plans for students remaining on campus.

Phikrohkit, who is from Thailand, said he would have preferred to stay on campus, but is concerned about the dining situation, among other issues, and is therefore staying with a host family in Portland, Oregon instead.

“To me, staying at school would be the most ideal because that means we are close to our international student adviser and if anything happens we can at least seek support from the college faster,” he said. 

He’s also concerned he might not be able to stay for the summer, if necessary.

For students remaining on campus, Student Health Services, Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services and EmPOWER will remain open, but will be closed to any students not authorized to remain, according to Pomona’s coronavirus FAQ.

Campus Safety will also continue to function.

Two students count the amount of drinks they're buying while a student cashier watches.
Hordes of students rushed the Coop Store to spend their flex dollars after learning that they would have to leave campus within the week. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

Honnold Mudd Library will stay open for students remaining on campus, Chodosh said in an information session Thursday, with limited access granted to the public. 

But Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr warned against students gathering to study in the library “for infection control reasons,” in an information session Thursday.

Students on the Student Health Insurance Plan will continue to be able to use their insurance at Aetna providers around the country, and after-hours phone counseling through Monsour will also remain available.

Phikrohkit said many international students have had to make hard choices about whether to remain in the U.S. or go home to their families.

He said they’ve been left asking themselves: “Should we just go home and face this with the people we love the most even if that means we are risking our chance of coming back to the U.S., the continuation of our education and everything else that we have here?”

This article was updated March 13, 2020 at 12:07 p.m. to add information about Pitzer’s plans to address time zone differences with online classes. 

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Marc Rod

Marc Rod PO '20 is from Rye Brook, New York. He currently serves as TSL's managing editor and previously worked as news editor, news associate and news writer.

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