Hillsdale College is encouraging students to stay on campus over Thanksgiving break, a change from previous years where campus has been closed for the holiday.
The college reiterated its policy change following Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order on Sunday, which closed all Michigan high schools and colleges. Hillsdale transitioned to virtual learning on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
“All are welcome to stay on campus over the Thanksgiving break,” Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said in an email on Monday, Nov. 16.
On campus, dorms are adjusting long-standing policies to prepare to house students during the holiday.
Senior Chris Gauthier, head resident assistant of Whitley Residence, said that his dormitory is making adjustments to ensure student comfort and normalcy.
“Whitley will be maintaining RA duties, visiting hours, etc. and treating break like a normal week except for not having classes,” Gauthier said.
RA teams are encouraged to stay on campus, but many residents won’t be around, according to head Simpson RA and senior Barrett Moore.
“There aren’t many residents actually staying. No RAs are required to stay, although a few are opting to,” Moore said. “At least in Simpson, most residents are going home.”
Gauthier added that the RA team is planning to maintain dorm community for students remaining on campus by hosting group activities.
“We are hoping to do some fun events with the guys who stay in order to make sure everyone feels involved and in community over break,” Gauthier said.
With COVID-19 cases rising state and nationwide, many students have made the decision to remain on campus. Some said the virtual nature of classes made it easier to stay on-campus.
“It wasn’t so much the virus itself as much as concern that I wouldn’t be able to return to campus after Thanksgiving Break because they might have chosen to shut down like they did after Spring Break last semester,” sophomore Hunter Law said. “I tend to focus a lot more when I’m in my dorm than when I’m at home and there are obviously a lot more resources available on campus for writing and studying that I don’t have at home.”
College is often the first time students are away from home for an extended time. For the freshmen who choose to remain on campus over break, this is likely their first holiday without family. Freshman Thais Bellancole, who plans to remain on campus, said he hopes to make the best of the situation.
“I’m planning on video-chatting with my parents and spending time with them that way,” Bellancole said. “It won’t be the same as interacting with them face-to-face, but at least it’s something.”
Freshman Jennifer Leonard, who will also stay on campus over break, was glad Hillsdale offered an option for students who didn’t want to go home for the holidays.
“I think it makes sense,” Leonard said. “The very last thing I want to do is bring coronavirus home to my family, particularly now that cases have spiked on campus.”