Students Stuck On Campus at NDSU & UND Face Social & Monetary Troubles
FARGO & GRAND FORKS, N.D. – As the pandemic ramped up, and businesses and schools closed around the nation, NDSU and UND found themselves in a situation that would require them to keep hundreds of students in on campus housing.
“The reasons vary tremendously, whether it was international students who couldn’t get back home, or students who needed internet. We had a large number that was actually for other things,” said Director of Residence Life at NDSU Rian Nostrum, “They still had employment either on campus or in the community, or they had doctors appointments they couldn’t cancel.”
New policies and procedures would be implemented, like strict social distancing in dorms, and express checkouts to minimize contact between leaving residents and campus staff.
NDSU staff started new interaction programs over Zoom to help keep on-campus students socializing and interacting.
Programs include painting, murder mystery game nights, and online bingo.
“What we are finding is if a program ended at 8:30, we aren’t getting them to disconnect until closer to 10:00 because they are craving interaction with other people,” said Nostrum.
For some international students, not every need can be met with a simple Zoom meeting.
“It’s been a lot of very humanizing conversations about how we meet your basic needs during this time, and support you so that you feel like you are wanted here and this is your home,” said Katie Dachtler, an advisor for the UND International Organization and Grand Forks City Councilperson.
Dacthler says many of her conversations as an advisor cross over into her conversations as a council member.
“We are having conversations about housing insecurity. Lots of our students were not eligible for any kind of assistance from the CARES Act,” said Dacthler.
The CARES Act does not cover international students or students who were claimed by parents on 2019 tax returns.
Many students who hold service jobs may also be out of work during the pandemic, and find it difficult to make rent or pay for food.
Perhaps the most pressing need however, is for family.
“When your family is half way across the world from you, you’re kind of wondering what is going on over there, but at the same time you have to keep up with classes, so trying to balance everything and keep in touch with everybody,” said Abby Lund, President of the UND International Organization.