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'Better Than Nothing': Houses, Harvard Affiliates Rush To Facilitate Move-Out

Cars and moving trucks pass through Harvard Yard as students try to make preparations for Sunday's move-out deadline.
Cars and moving trucks pass through Harvard Yard as students try to make preparations for Sunday's move-out deadline. By Zadoc I.N. Gee
By Sydnie M. Cobb and Declan J. Knieriem, Crimson Staff Writers

As Harvard’s Houses scramble to assist College students in their departures, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana provided several updates regarding the upcoming move-out in an email to students Wednesday night.

In the email, Khurana wrote that room and board charges will be partially refunded for students who depart by Sunday. He also explained that all “major academic deadlines” — including those for senior theses — will be extended by one week. In addition, University resources such as Urgent Care, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and the Title IX Office will “remain open and fully operational.”

“I recognize how difficult the last 36 hours have been for all of you, and I sympathize with the frustration you are experiencing as you try to meet the challenges ahead,” Khurana wrote. “Please know the College is working hard to support you and respond to the needs of our community in the midst of this rapidly evolving situation.”

This information comes one day after Harvard announced that students must vacate their dorms by Sunday, March 15th at 5 p.m., due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This decision has resulted in confusion and concern among students, faculty, and staff across the University.

Khurana’s update follows an earlier email from Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke that informed students that the College will provide up to a $200 subsidy for students on financial aid in order to offset the cost of off-campus storage or shipping.

The move-out deadline has forced House staff to quickly mobilize. Beginning Tuesday, the Houses began distributing thousands of boxes purchased by the University for departing students.

College staff and representatives from the Dean of Students Office congregated in dining halls across campus to help students finalize travel plans. According to Burke, the costs incurred from booking travel will be applied to students’ term bills.

Burke also noted that students will receive financial assistance for their travel that reflects the overall amount of financial aid students receive.

House faculty and resident deans have also stepped in to provide support to students as they transition off-campus.

Mather House Faculty Deans Amala K. Mahadevan and Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan urged students in an email to remember the positive aspects of this year, including Mather’s top ranking for intramural rankings, and to keep in mind the graduating seniors who concurrently began their time at Mather with the faculty deans.

Lowell Faculty Dean David I. Laibson ’88 wrote in an email to The Crimson that he and Faculty Dean Nina Zipser are especially focused on seniors in Lowell.

“Nina and I have spent lots of time listening to Lowellians,” he wrote. “They have shared their concerns, their fears and their hopes with us. We have been particularly focused on connecting with and celebrating our seniors, who are experiencing an especially deep sense of loss.”

Dunster House will implement its own drop-off service for library books, according to an email to students from Dunster House Building Manager Lucia Baldock. This system will allow the House to collect and return students’ borrowed items to the College library system.

“We hope that this gives you one less thing to worry about as you prepare to leave campus,” Baldock wrote.

Efforts to aid students span beyond the Houses as well.

In an email to members, the Harvard Graduate Student Union and United Auto Workers announced they will volunteer their resources — cars, storage space, housing, physical labor — to assist students during move out.

In an email to English concentrators, Professor Stephanie Burt ’93 — who also serves as the director undergraduate studies of the department — wrote that a number of departmental faculty are willing to store students’ belongings in their offices.

“We know it's an emergency measure, but it's better than nothing,” Burt wrote.

—Staff writer Sydnie M. Cobb can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cobbsydnie.

—Staff writer Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.

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