Residents forced to relocate and isolate due to COVID-19 speak out on experiences

When former Cabrini Hall resident Trent Miller received an email from Seton Hall on Feb. 8 telling him he was needing to vacate his dorm, he said he was blindsided and frustrated by the University’s decision.. 

“We were notified about the move the same time the rest of the student body was, so we were just as surprised as everyone else,” Miller said. 

Residents of Cabrini Hall were notified by Housing and Residence Life that they were being forced to relocate to Xavier Hall so that Seton Hall could open up additional quarantine space to accomodate students on campus that were impacted by COVID-19.

Ora Manor, located just two miles away from Seton Hall’s South Orange campus, serves as one of the University’s two primary COVID-19 quarantine facilities. (Photo via Google Maps)

Stories like Miller’s are a dime a dozen now on Seton Hall’s South Orange campus, where an indeterminate yet sizable number of students have had to migrate their living quarters either permanently as a result of the University’s decision to expand coronavirus quarantine capacity or temporarily because of potential or confirmed exposure to the virus.

After hearing of the decision, Miller said he made an appointment with Winston Roberts, Associate Dean of Students in hopes of getting more information as to why the school decided to make this decision.

“When I asked exactly why they made this choice, they kept telling me it was due to an expected uptick in cases due to increased surveillance testing,” Miller said. “I didn’t see many lights on in halls like Serra or Neumann, so I asked why they didn’t move people to those halls, but I didn’t really get a straight answer.”

Miller said that although the move was unexpected, it was not necessarily unwanted.

“Honestly, I didn’t mind moving to Xavier because I know people in this hall, as well, but it was still very difficult,” he said. “When you get settled into one place, it can be very disrupting to have to get all of your things and move on such short notice.”

While the move was unexpected, Miller said he is making the most out of it. 

“I feel like throughout the entire moving process everything was mostly accommodated for,” Miller said. “However, I know I am not only speaking for myself when I say that as a resident of Cabrini, I was frustrated with how we were blindsided by the entire thing.”

Jessica Proano, the director of housing and residential life, provided a reason as to why the department decided to move the students in Cabrini to Xavier. 

“We followed the guidance from the CDC and state health officials, who forecast potential spread around COVID-19 and the new variants this semester,” Proano said.” We increased surveillance testing and contact tracing, and increased our quarantine and isolation space to include Cabrini Hall to accommodate anticipated additional positive cases and students identified as possible contacts. Current residents of Cabrini Hall were relocated to Xavier Hall. Housing and Residence Life were able to keep most roommate pairs together.”

Proano said that the pandemic has made the Seton Hall community adapt to new guidelines, and is “grateful for the understanding and cooperation of the Cabrini Hall students, and we are working with them to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.” 

Miller was not the only student impacted by a University-imposed COVID-19 displacement. Eden Dolezal, a junior communications major who lives in Xavier Hall, said she was forced to quarantine after one member of the women’s volleyball team tested positive for COVID-19.

“We had our game canceled after warmups and the athletic trainer came and grabbed us and told us to go to our rooms for later instructions,” Dolezal said. 

After receiving a phone call from Nicole Giglia, the assistant dean of students, Dolezal said she was notified that she had two hours to pack up all her stuff and meet security in front of Serra to go into isolation. 

Dolezal said she chose to personally pay to relocate to a hotel instead and had to stay there for 10 days.  She offered insight into life after being displaced by COVID-19. 

“I was very fortunate that I was able to go to a hotel just to be able to focus on school, eat healthy, and be able to have good mental health during this time,” Dolezal said. “Life at the hotel was very different because it was during the time of the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and other friends’ birthdays so it was very bittersweet, but we all got through it and are stronger now.”

Anastasia Rubino, a sophomore biochemistry major, said she was displaced by COVID-19 despite testing negative. 

“I called health services for a COVID-19 test because someone I had seen a couple days prior had tested positive; I was told the earliest they could do that day was 3 p.m.,” Rubino said. “I was then on hold for 15 minutes and then told by someone else that I couldn’t be tested until 2 days later. After this, I was transferred to another person who informed me that I would be transferred to Ora and would be there 2 weeks, not 2 days, regardless of my test.”

Despite testing negative, Rubino would have been forced to quarantine in a building full of people that were positive. Rubino said she was confused by the entire situation.

“I was being told a different story by different people,” Rubino said. “It was very sudden; I had no time to get things like my computer which I use heavily for school and I was told the only food I could get was the meals sent by the café. All of this was happening as I was still negative.”

Rubino said she was only able to resolve the situation by leaving campus altogether.

“My mother was able to convince them to let her take me home and they didn’t let me come back for 16 days after that,” Rubino said.

When asked if she thought that precautions were warranted, Rubino said she took two more additional tests, “both of which were negative.”Alexander Krukar can be reached at alexander.krukar@student.shu.edu.

Author: Alexander Krukar

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