The University of Richmond will delay commencement, move to remote instruction and shift to remote work for employees for the rest of the spring semester, according to an email from UR President Ronald Crutcher sent to the campus community on March 16.
In the email, Crutcher encouraged students currently on campus to make plans to return home and wrote that student development professionals would be in contact with students in the next day or two with further information.
Crutcher wrote that students no longer on campus should not return to collect their belongings until information to do so is shared by Housing and Residence Life.
In a email sent on March 16 before Crutcher’s announcement, Director of International Student and Scholar Services Krittika Onsanit and Dean of International Education Martha Merritt informed UR exchange students who had previously been approved to stay on campus that they had to make a new request to remain on campus for the rest of the semester.
“Any student who has previously been granted permission to stay on campus must make a second request,” Onasanit and Merritt wrote. “The only circumstances under which a visiting exchange student may request permission to remain on campus is if your home country has closed its borders, and you do not have an alternate place to stay.”
About 380 students had previously been approved by Residence Life to stay on campus, Patrick Benner, director of residence life and housing, wrote in an email to The Collegian the morning of March 16.
“We worked very quickly to evaluate all petitions and spoke with many students regarding their requests,” Benner wrote. “Exceptions were extremely limited.”
Students must submit their new request to stay before 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, according to the email sent by Onsanit and Merritt.
“Right now, I am just trying to figure out the best course of action,” said Junior Alfie Norris, an exchange student studying at UR who lives in London. “I was thinking of staying with some family friends in upstate New York. Or, I am a Canadian citizen as well so I was thinking about going to Canada and seeing if it’s a bit more tame there, seeing if this whole thing blows over before I commit to going back to London where I’ll essentially be stuck in my house for 12 weeks, which I don’t want to do.
“I’ve been invited by Richmond students to their houses before this and I was thinking about doing that. My main concern is if [the U.S. locks down] the states and sort of prevents domestic travel and then I am stuck at my friends’ house for a couple months. It’s a bit of a burden.”
Junior Alejandro Rodrigo Munoz, an exchange student studying at UR from Madrid, said switching to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester was unfortunate but would likely prevent the suffering that he had seen in European countries.
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“Honestly I am glad they are doing it because I’ve seen the effect on Italian friends and how the Italian government didn’t set down things on time, and now they are suffering for that,” Munoz said. “Spain did the same thing, and friends all over Europe are suffering the consequences of late response.”
Dean of Westhampton College Mia Reinoso Genoni and Dean of Richmond College Joe Boehman sent an email on March 16 to students who had applied and had been approved to stay on campus after Crutcher emailed the campus community.
In addition to the circumstances under which international students could request to remain on campus listed in Onasanit and Merritt’s email, Genoni and Boehman wrote that “students who experience food insecurity or other similarly serious circumstances, and who do not have an alternate place to stay” can also request permission.
Senior Ray Hotta, an international student from Tokyo, had petitioned to stay on campus and was approved, but is now deciding whether he should return home.
“My parents want me to stay in the U.S. as much as I can because obviously it’s safer here than it is in Japan right now,” Hotta said.
Hotta’s tentative plan is to stay with family in the U.S., he said.
“I have family in Ohio as well and I’ve been in contact with them recently,” Hotta said. “So like I could go there, but that would mean that I’d have to move all my stuff out.”
Hotta does not think it would be realistic to hold commencement at a later date, he said.
“When I first read it, I didn’t really understand what it means by postponed because we’re all on an agenda as seniors,” Hotta said. "People start jobs and I don’t know, [are] just all over the world once we graduate after May. So like [Crutcher] means postponed by like a month or two months? I don’t know what that means. I honestly don’t think it’s realistic that we’re going to have any type of organized commencement or celebration.”
Features editor William Roberts; lifestyle editor Emma Phelps and editor-in-chief Olivia Diaz contributed to reporting.
Contact managing editor Emma Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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