HWS announces it will close all residence halls except for students with ‘special circumstances’

– By Gabriel Pietrorazio

Hobart and William Smith Colleges have announced the closure of all residence halls on-campus except for students with “special circumstances” in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak that is plaguing New York state.

In a statement issued by Vice President of Campus Life Robert Flowers aired the news with the campus community, sharing that enrolled students will receive a credit up to 50 percent for room and board charges that were accrued during the spring 2020 semester.

“In recognition of this situation, the Colleges will be crediting 50% of Room and Board charged for the Spring 2020 semester, less the proration of any financial aid received directly from the Colleges. We hope this action by the Colleges is helpful for students and families as we all navigate this challenging time,” Flowers wrote.

With a projected annual room and board costs at $7,955 and $6,615, their combined total amounts to $14,570.

At most, students can expect to see a $3,642.50 return on their investment following the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

However, for students who obtain financial aid, this credit is anticipated to be less, according to Flowers.

Additionally, the disbursement of credit shall be administered differently depending on whether students are returning to campus next semester or graduating as seniors.

Returning students shall directly receive the allocated credit to the student account that will count toward their next payment while seniors shall obtain a credit upon graduation.

Please read the full letter below.

Dear Students, Parents and Family Members,

As we continue to receive updates regarding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the nation and world, our hearts go out to anyone in our community who may be affected. Our philosophy here on campus has been to do everything possible to ensure our students remain on track to earn their spring course credits and in general achieve their educational goals. Faculty have been using the spring break to move their courses to a remote learning model, and students will resume classes on Monday. 

As I outlined in my message on March 17 regarding on-campus housing and services, our ability to provide a robust living environment for the remainder of the semester has been significantly reduced by state and federal directives intended to halt the spread of the virus. At this point, we are only able to provide minimal services to the students who remain on campus, and I fear that additional restrictions could still occur. 

Although we had hoped that we would be able to welcome students back to campus after Spring Break, based on the rapidly deteriorating situation nationwide and on the advice and counsel of local authorities and public health officials, we will not return to an in-person model of teaching this semester, and we have made the difficult decision to restrict on-campus housing to only those students with special circumstances.

If a student feels they must remain on or return to campus, please be in touch with the Office of Residential Education at (315) 781-3880 before the end of business on Friday, March 20, 2020 so that we can discuss your circumstances.  

In recognition of this situation, the Colleges will be crediting 50% of Room and Board charged for the Spring 2020 semester, less the proration of any financial aid received directly from the Colleges. We hope this action by the Colleges is helpful for students and families as we all navigate this challenging time. 

For students who are not graduating this spring, your credit will be applied to your account. Graduates will receive a payment from the Colleges for any credit balances after graduation. We will send a notice once credits have been posted later in the semester.

All students will be able to access their campus rooms at any point during the term to move belongings. OneCards have been deactivated for students not registered for housing. Please contact Residential Education to arrange a time to access your room. We will work with you to make arrangements to ship or store your belongings at the end of the term if you are unable to return to campus.

For our students who are scheduled to graduate this semester, please know that there are no words that can fully express the degree to which we are all thinking about you and the many ways that these extraordinary world events are shaping your final semester at Hobart and William Smith. The Colleges have gone through a great deal during your years in Geneva, and your contributions to our community have served your fellow students, your faculty and all other community members so very well. We cannot possibly express the depth of our sadness about the situation. 

On behalf of everyone at the Colleges, I hope that you all stay healthy and safe, and find great success in the completion of this semester. 

Sincerely,

Robb Flowers

Vice President for Campus Life

For more information, go to the Colleges’ COVID-19 FAQ webpage, updated daily.