Butler University students looking for ways to reconnect with belongings after campus closure

Butler students face different move out situations due to coronavirus. Collegian File Photo. 

OLIVIA KLAFTA | STAFF REPORTER | oklafta@butler.edu 

Miriam Berne’s mom had a point. They had the car space. A lot of other schools had announced they were closed for the semester. Who knew if Butler University would be next?

“Why don’t you just move out?” Berne’s mom had asked.

So that’s what the sophomore criminology major did. It was supposed to be just a 20 minute “grab-and-go” as outlined in the Office of Student Affairs’ email on March 13, but Berne chose to completely move out of Fairview House instead. Four days later, Butler President James Danko announced the campus will close for the rest of the semester.

From ResCo, Madison Millard, a junior psychology and French double major, picked up some of her essentials during the grab-and-go period. Millard is also a community assistant in the dorm.

“I got a lot of questions, either in the GroupMe or just people texting me,” Millard said. “Butler students are from all over the nation and so some of the concerns were, ‘I live in a different state, I live in California, I live in Texas, I live just really far away. Is there any way that someone else can grab my stuff for me? Like I’m not going to be able to make it back to the grab-and-go.’”

Sophomore pharmacy major Kelly Tran fell into that category. Tran is from California, so the majority of her belongings are still in Fairview where she left them before spring break. She brought home her school materials and was already planning on bringing home extra things in order to lighten her load when it came time to move out in May.

For now, Tran is unsure what she is going to do in order to move her things out.

“I feel like no one knows when everything is going to open back up,” Tran said. “I don’t know what my options are like once it does happen. Just like paying one of my friends to move out that lives over there? Or it’ll open up close enough to next semester where I can move out and then move in for junior year. I don’t know what that’s gonna look like, but I feel like they’re gonna need time to clean the rooms and revamp anything that’s damaged, so I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

Oliver Kron, a sophomore management systems major, is from New Jersey. Kron returned to Butler from his spring break trip on Mar. 14 and was approved to stay in his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, for the extended break until April 4.

Once Butler President James Danko sent the email on March 15 that all residential housing would be closing and advised students in Greek housing and rental properties surrounding campus to return home as well, Kron was not left with any time to pack his room up.

“I got a message through my Greek house saying they’re encouraging people to head home,” Kron said. “I talked to my parents to see if I could get a cheap flight, because at that point, it was pretty much guaranteed that they were going to cancel school for the year. Even I didn’t want to believe it.”

Kron was able to return home to New Jersey but was not able to completely pack his room up. The residents of Phi Delt are now waiting on an updated message that will tell them when they are allowed to return and move out.

Garrett Davis, a sophomore critical communication and media studies major, also lived in the Phi Delt fraternity house this year. Davis planned to stay home for the extended break before returning to Phi Delt.

“Luckily I only live 30 to 40 minutes away,” Davis said. “So when we got the email that was like, ‘Hey, we’re not coming back,’ I was like, ‘I got to drop what I’m doing and go get the rest of my stuff.’ So that’s what I did, but I know a lot of other brothers, which includes ones who live like an hour to many hours away, weren’t able to go back and get their stuff.”

Camille Ringenberg, a sophomore music education major, was able to grab some of her stuff from her Greek house before the university announced its closing.

Ringenberg lived in the Alpha Phi sorority house this year. Chapter members who chose to grab some of their things or move out completely did so on their own to best follow social distancing guidelines.

“Our parents could sit outside of the house but they weren’t allowed inside to keep the potential spread of anything very low,” Ringenberg said. “My mom came with me and she just sat outside and talked to other parents.”

Emma Harris, a junior biochemistry and psychology double major, stayed in her unit in AV for spring break to study for the MCAT. When the extended break was announced, she still planned to stay at Butler until in-person classes were supposed to begin again.

“Initially, because I had had contact with pretty much no one, I wrote an email to Student Affairs and just kind of told them that I hadn’t been in contact with anybody other than a very local, small group and I was hoping to stay in the apartment, given that I wasn’t planning on leaving other than to go grocery shopping, and none of my roommates were coming back,” Harris said. “I figured I was at very low risk of passing, or contracting COVID.”

Harris said her mom is a nurse in a hospital, which could potentially expose her to the coronavirus more than if she just stayed in AV. Her parents had just visited her on March 14, the day before Danko announced all campus housing would be closing.

“But [Student Affairs] did respond and say that I was not allowed to stay, and that was partially because they just wanted to keep the numbers at Butler low,” Harris said. “So I had to quickly turn around, my parents had to come back and get me. I have not finished moving out of my apartment but I have all of the things I would have thought I would need at home.”

An email was sent out March 23 from Frank Ross, vice president for student affairs, with information regarding students returning to campus. Student Affairs has asked students to not return to campus at this time given Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home executive order. They are currently developing a plan for students to return to campus and move out of their housing, but a procedure has yet to be finalized.

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