By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

Wilf and Beren Housing Plans Released to Students for Fall 2020

Wilf and Beren students can apply for restricted, on-campus housing — which will first open on Oct. 12 — for the fall semester, announced Wilf Director of University Housing and Residence Life Jonathan Schwab and Beren Acting Director of University Housing and Residence Life Becky Ciment via email on Tuesday evening, July 7.

Only single-room housing will be available on Wilf campus’ Rubin, Morgenstern and Muss Residence Halls. Beren campus’ Brookdale dorms can total up to three students per room, compared to the four-to-five-person maximum of recent years, and independent housing will hold up to two students per apartment; 36th Street, 35th Street and Schottenstein Residence Halls will be limited to one student per room.

All housing rates are prorated to reflect the eight-week delayed opening of housing for Fall 2020; this was based on each campus’ standard dorm prices. Wilf students can dorm in either Rubin or Morgenstern Halls for $3,284 or Muss Hall for $2,396. Beren students may dorm in 35th Street Residence hall for $4,260 or either 36th Street, Brookdale or Schottenstein Residence Halls for $3,284; independent housing options on 30 Park Avenue and 251 Lexington  are also available for $3,284. 

Housing applications are due Friday, July 24, and students will be notified of their application status one week later on July 31. According to the email, “Because space is limited, we may not be able to accommodate all students who apply for housing.” As such, housing availability will be prioritized to first accommodate “newly enrolled students,” followed by students whose permanent address is at least 50 miles from YU. 

The Fall 2020 Opening Plan noted that, “every attempt will be made to arrange housing for all full-time undergraduate students who desire it, either on or near campus.” University Dean of Students Chaim Nissel told The Commentator that YU is “still exploring options to expand our housing capacity.”

“I think Housing is handling the situation very well,” said Moshe Gordon (YC ‘22), a Wilf resident advisor (RA) for the 2020-21 academic year. “The order of precedence for rooms seems fair and reasonable, and the prorated costs compensate for the reduced time that residents will be living on campus in the fall.”

All students living on campus must also enroll in either a standard or reduced meal plan for $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. The standard plan offers up to 10 weekly meals while the reduced plan provides up to seven; these plans “consist exclusively of Dining Dollars.”

Dining services in campus cafeterias are restricted to Monday-Thursday, and a “more detailed schedule” will be available on Oct. 12. As mentioned in the Fall 2020 Opening Plan, the cafeterias will only feature a take-out service, until “social distancing rules are relaxed.” 

With the housing application deadline less than three weeks away, some students feel unprepared to commit to living arrangements for the fall semester. “I appreciate that we’re able to go back to campus, but I don’t see how realistic it is to go back” explained Neeli Fagan (SCW ‘21), a student from Chicago. “The dorms are expensive, I’m not even sure who’s going to be there, and about 7-9 meals a week won’t sustain someone who’s out-of-town who isn’t going to friends for Shabbos because of the coronavirus.”

Isaac Dobin (YC ‘22), a student currently living in Houston, Texas where the number of coronavirus cases are soaring, said that while he likes “the idea that everyone [on the Wilf campus] has their own room because we have to social distance,” he expressed uncertainty as to whether students “who live out of state will even be able to come back to campus,” referencing the rise in cases. 

The announcement of housing arrangements came on the heels of YU’s official plan for Fall 2020, which was announced to students last week on June 30, nearly four months since YU first closed its campus for Spring 2020 after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

Among the concerns shared by students, YU has yet to announce which classes will be online and in-person after students are allowed to return to campus. “We recognize that students have many questions about fall classes,” Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman told The Commentator. “We are finalizing the academic plans for the fall and plan to have more information by the end of July.”

“We will be updating our FAQs and sharing more information during the community calls we will be holding later this month,” Botman added.

Given the uncertainty of whether international students will be allowed to return to American campuses in the fall, some students are frustrated about their unknown status come August. 

"While I don’t blame YU, the uncertainty of the situation is very annoying in order to make a decision,” said Elia Lej (SCW '22), a student from Brussels. “We don’t know if we, international students, will be able to return to campus … I want to make a decision on taking a semester of absence, transferring to a school where classes will meet in person, or decide to continue classes online.”Other students, however, are just grateful for the opportunity to return to campus. “I am looking forward to campus opening up in any capacity once again,” said Yeshiva Student Union President Zachary Greenberg (SSSB ‘21), who was formerly an RA. “The reason many of us went to YU was for the chevra (friend groups) and campus life, and I am very excited for that to return. My family is a little wary about my safety, but we trust that Schwab and the Housing Department will do a great job to make it as safe as possible.”

Photo Caption: Wilf Campus’ Morgenstern Residence Hall 
Photo Credit: The Commentator