Students who reside at CUNY and SUNY colleges have been kicked out of their dorms as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health authorities eye the campuses as sites for make-shift emergency medical centers to help treat a wave of coronavirus patients, officials said.
“New York State is sending its CUNY and SUNY students out into pandemic through dorm closures,” fumed Petra Gregory, a student government representative at the College of Staten Island.
Dorm students at CUNY’s Hunter and City College campuses were also ordered to vacate as were resident-students at several SUNY campuses — including Stony Brook, which the Army Corps. of Engineers has chosen as one of Long Island’s emergency medical sites.
Stony Brook already has a hospital on campus and already serves as a Suffolk County COVID-19 drive-thru testing center.
Gregory said dorms residents at CUNY’s Staten Island campus were abruptly told that they were getting the boot Monday night when a resident assistant knocked on their doors.
“I am currently being unfairly evicted out of my dorms, and I have a mother who is immunocompromised and a 6-month-old baby sister. My family is unable to pick me up, and I have to travel with my support animal and pack for him on this short notice as well,” one of the college’s resident-students, Jasmine Shaikh, said.
The sixth floor hallway at Hunter College’s Brookdale dormitories.David McGlynn
A CSI official sent an email to students on Tuesday confirming the state ordered the students booted to make room.
“Governor Cuomo has asked private and public universities across New York State to be ready for the possibility that dormitories might need to be converted into temporary emergency medical centers,” said Jennifer Borrero, CSI’s vice president of student affairs.
Borrero said she was “sorry” that students’ lives were being upended, but that the colleges had to do their part in helping stem the spread of the “global pandemic.”
“It was only after careful consideration and consultation with public health experts that we determined these measures to be the best and safest option for our students,” she said.
Cuomo had already issued an edict requiring colleges to cancel classes and move to distance learning/online courses to combat the coronavirus.
But dorm students were given the option to continue living on campus — until now.
CUNY spokesman Frank Sobrino said CUNY students who need housing will be allowed to move to a dorm at Queens College, and the university on Thursday will help transport them and their belongings.
“CUNY is doing all it can in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including making dormitories available for use as medical facilities, as requested by the state. Students residing in these facilities who are unable to go home are being offered placement in a dormitory at Queens College, where they will continue receiving full services,” Sobrino said.
More than 30,000 New Yorkers statewide have tested positive for the coronavirus and 285 have died, Cuomo said earlier Wednesday. Cuomo said the state is all doing all it can to increase bed capacity to treat a wave of COVID-19 patients.