WSU plans for residence halls to be ‘pretty much at occupancy’ this fall



WSU administrators and faculty met for a virtual town hall on Friday. Left to right: Matt Houston, Jeffrey Jarman, Julie Scott, Rick Muma and Teri Hall.

UPDATE: President Jay Golden announced Thursday that the university will only charge students for housing through the campus shutdown date on Nov. 20, unless a student chooses to stay after that date. Those who stay longer will be charged a daily rate.

Wichita State University is expecting to run residence halls “pretty much at occupancy” in the upcoming fall semester, Vice President of Student Affairs Teri Hall said at a virtual town hall on Friday.

Hall said the university is expecting about 1,400 students to live on campus next semester. While some students will share dorms, Hall said the university wants to avoid “tripling,” or putting three people in a space.

“Our goal is to come back and have a full residence life experience for students,” Hall said.

About 100 students were living in residence halls in April, a few weeks after the university shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The fall semester is set to start Aug. 17. Faculty, staff and students will be required to wear a mask when meeting together, and classrooms will be cleaned daily and set up to enforce 6-foot social distancing at all times.

All in-person courses are transitioning to hybrid instruction, which the university says will make it easier to transition online if necessary.

Provost Rick Muma said the university will also have to adjust its fall events to make them safer but won’t necessarily have to cancel them altogether.

“We just have to plan them a little bit differently,” Muma said. “They might be smaller. There might be a mix of meetings like this, or in a Zoom format.”

For example, Hall said the traditional Move-In Day will be staggered across several days, and students will have to schedule an appointment to move in.

Freshman orientation will also look different, happening in three phases:

  1. Virtual events
  2. Required online modules
  3. In-person events following safety guidelines in August

Muma said the university is still deciding what to do after Thanksgiving, when some students traditionally travel to their homes outside of Wichita, Kansas and/or the United States.

“It may not be necessary to stop the semester at Thanksgiving,” he said. “An option could be that … at the point of Thanksgiving, the students won’t be coming back, so whatever needs to be finished in the classes needs to be done in an online or remote fashion, including their final exams.”

Watch the full virtual town hall here