MSU offers changes in classes, rent, grades for students in light of COVID-19

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Ever since Michigan State University announced the suspension of in-person classes on March 11 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students have attempted to navigate the change while school officials worked to accommodate their needs. 

Bracing for a mass exodus from on-campus residence halls, including Stearns from Brody Neighborhood, the university implemented social distancing policies during the move-out to protect the health of its students in light of the coronavirus. 

Leah Fershtman, an MSU student who works  at Snyder Hall’s neighborhood service center, detailed the precautions. 

“We set up express checkouts in order to practice social distancing,” Fershtman said. “Residents can manually turn in their keys and fill out a survey. There’s minimum contact, but it’s been very busy and chaotic. Recently it has slowed down, though.”

To compensate students who had to vacate their housing before the conclusion of the academic year, and to incentivize students to leave their residence halls, the university has offered all on-campus students a credit of $1,120 if they check out of their room by 5 p.m. April 12. 

The funds can be received as a direct deposit, or they can be used toward an on-campus housing and dining plan for fall. Students were notified of the refund via email on March 16. 

“In my opinion the university did a really poor job of keeping everything consistent with the closures,” said Brody resident Nathan Stearns. “It started with moving classes online until late April, so I gathered up most of my stuff and went home. 

“I did keep some of my stuff back at school. Then, when the university announced classes would be online for the rest of the semester, I had to drive back and collect everything else. I wish the university would’ve announced online classes for the rest of the semester first.” 

“Over 50% of the people in North Neighborhood have moved out. It’s been very different,” Fershtman said. “If I still lived in the dorms I would move out and take advantage of the refund.” 

Stearns said, “I plan to use the housing credit to go toward the five credits of summer classes that I have signed up for. I might also spend some of the money on my rent for my apartment next fall.”

The university offered academic relief on March 26, when it announced students would have the option to have final grades transcribed as  satisfactory/not satisfactory at the conclusion of the semester. 

Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Sullivan announced the decision to students in an email. 

“To help you cope with the many challenges you are facing right now, MSU will offer most of you the option to have your final grades in each of your courses transcribed on a binary S/NS (satisfactory/not satisfactory) scale,” Sullivan said in the email. 

The grade threshold between satisfactory and not satisfactory has been set at 1.0. Faculty will submit their grades as usual following the semester. Students will then have a two-week period to decide which grades they want to retain and which grades they will use the S/NS scale for on a class-by-class basis. 

“I really think it’s a good idea,” Stearns said. “Some of my instructors have really struggled with the new format and it’s nice to see that we won’t be punished for this crazy set of circumstances.”

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