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Some students foregoing dorms at the U of M amid uncertainty

Regents will decide Monday whether to approve plan to move into dorms late, with online learning for at least two weeks.

Like many other incoming freshmen, Will Thompson is scrambling.

"Yeah, it is a scramble, big time," he said. 

With the U of M President now proposing a two-week delay in moving into residence halls, and the uncertainty that remains about residential living at the U of M, Thompson and his friends are trying to find an apartment near campus 

And they are filling up fast.

"Since we didn't do it yesterday we lost the room that would have accommodated four guys in a room," Thompson said. "I just kind of wish we knew earlier. Just to prepare."

As apartments start filling up, the Graduate Hotel on Washington Avenue is offering rooms for rent with amenities to students. And the general manager says they've answered 50 inquiries in the last day.

The Board of Regents will decide Monday morning whether to approve President Joan Gable's proposal, which also would change all classes to online-only for at least the first two weeks.

"Our goal was really to start day one with some direct instruction. But now it seems that's not the best or most wise decision," said regent Kao Ly Ilean Her.

Her said she would rather have students learn in-person, but the sheer size of enrollment at the U makes doing so safely more difficult.

"Some schools are testing all their students when school starts. Can we test all the students when school starts? Probably not," she said.

"Distance learning would be a bummer as well. Obviously going to classes is part of the college experience among other things. But you gotta deal with it," Thompson said.

For students like Thompson - who lost the spring of their high school senior year due to the pandemic - it feels like a double-whammy.

And they'll be closely watching what the Regents decide, and what they believe the rest of the fall will look like.

The Regents meet at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, and the meeting will be streamed on their Youtube channel.

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