IU Bloomington rolls out housing assignments, policies to keep students safe

Housing assignments for Indiana University students who plan to live on campus are rolling out this month, but as with nearly every aspect of life during the coronavirus pandemic, living on the Bloomington campus will look very different this fall. To keep students safe, the university has made several adjustments to its housing facilities, policies and practices.

A sign that says welcome home hangs on a door handleView print quality image
IU Bloomington has made several adjustments to its housing facilities, policies and practices to keep students safe this fall. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, Indiana University

To limit the possible spread of the virus, dorms will be single occupancy whenever possible. Residential Programs and Services has contacted all students about their willingness to have a roommate and have made accommodations for those who wish to live alone. Overnight guests will not be allowed in on-campus housing.

In coordination with the university's mask mandate, everyone must wear a mask while occupying shared spaces in the residence halls. Students will not be required to wear masks in their room if they live alone or if roommates agree not to do so. Though windows must remain closed for the HVAC system to work properly, enhanced air filtration systems have been installed. Plexiglass between sinks and stringent cleaning regimens have also been put in place to mitigate the spread of the disease in communal bathrooms.

While large events in residence halls will not be possible this academic year, resident assistants and other Residential Programs and Services staff will still lead students in exercises around IU's residential curriculum. The curriculum focuses on four key areas -- well-being, understanding of self and others, intellectual engagement, and civic stewardship -- and is designed to educate, empower and engage residents.

These themes will be the focus of educational bulletin boards on residence hall floors, one-on-one conversations between resident assistants and residents, and larger virtual events. Residential Programs and Services staff is also working with campus partners to plan virtual movie-watching parties and trivia game nights, small-group grab-and-go activities and scavenger hunts, and other ways to build community among students living on campus.

The reopening of McNutt Quad, Foster Quad and Teter Quad, which had been closed or partially closed for renovations, will provide Residential Programs and Services with more flexibility to offer single-occupancy housing to students who request it. And for freshmen who do not feel safe living in a residence hall at all, IU Bloomington will waive the requirement to live on campus.

The Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel will also pivot to operate as an additional residential facility for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students. The Biddle will implement COVID-19 safety measures to keep residents safe, offering only single-occupancy rooms with individual bathrooms.

Biddle housekeepers will enter individual resident rooms to restock toilet paper, refresh linens and vacuum weekly, but residents will be responsible for keeping their own units (including bathrooms) clean and for taking out their own trash. The Biddle housekeeping staff will vacuum, empty communal trash and recycling, and monitor cleanliness every day.

"With the university's announced commitment to limit guests on campus, the switch from an award-winning hotel to a long-term residence facility for students shows just how committed IU is to student safety," said Mike Campbell, associate director of the Indiana Memorial Union. "We believe this offers a unique opportunity for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students to live in the center of campus and take advantage of all of the Indiana Memorial Union's many dining, retail and student programming options."

Both Residential Programs and Services and the Biddle Hotel will close on-campus student housing from Nov. 25, 2020, to Feb. 4, 2021, as the campus transitions to online-only instruction. These measures will help limit the number of people on campus during the months when the flu season compounds coronavirus concerns and issues.

A room at The Biddle Hotel View print quality image
The Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel will pivot to operate as an additional residential facility for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, Indiana University

Sorority and fraternity houses are privately owned. Students or parents of students living in sorority or fraternity facilities for the upcoming fall semester should contact their organization directly to ask about their health and safety plans. In conjunction with the Monroe County Health Department, the IU Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life shared public health and CDC recommendations regarding communal living spaces with sororities, fraternities and other housed student organizations.

The majority of organizations closed their campus facilities in the spring to quickly adjust to the changes. The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and the Dean of Students Office have been providing these organizations, who are valued campus partners, with ongoing updates as they prepare for students to return for the Fall 2020 semester. Their partnership in these efforts is critical for promoting safe environments for students. For more updates regarding initiatives in sorority and fraternity life, visit the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life's website.

Those who plan to live in other on-campus housing should continue to check their email and monitor the Fall 2020 website for updates regarding residence halls and move-in at IU Bloomington.