On March 16, an email from the Office of the President was sent out to the student body informing students that the university would be evacuating the dormitories early.
Students were told to be out of their dorms no later than April 3, and the date they moved out would reflect how much of their tuition and room and board was prorated.
This was contradicted by an update on March 17 that told students that the date by which they had to move out was not April 3, but March 27. It also included an updated proration chart.
In both emails, it is mentioned that if a student feels they need to stay on campus, they can fill out a “Move-Out Exemption Request” form, but that very few exemptions will be made.
Several students have spoken out about these ‘exceptions,’ citing that having an abusive household or a sickness should qualify as a reason for staying on campus.
One student, who has wished to remain anonymous due to the personal nature of their reasons for wanting to stay, noted that going home could be dangerous for both them and their parents.
“I have multiple autoimmune diseases that the school is aware of, and my mom’s a nurse, so, obviously, she’s working with patients that potentially have this illness or can get this illness. She actually just got moved to work at a testing center. My mom would be conducting the tests and then coming home to me.”
This student explained to the school that on top of the serious financial issues surrounding their family, it would be dangerous or even deadly to send them home. Despite this, the school denied the student’s request to stay on campus
“They just kind of responded and said that I was denied and didn’t really give me any further input as to why,” they said.
According to this student, it was unclear for them and many other students as to what criteria the university was following when deciding who would get to stay on campus.
“My roommate reached out to almost 20 people who applied to stay and not one person got accepted, so I’m just kind of confused as to what the criteria was to be accepted and why they had to fill out a form, and who sat down and read all of these desperate pleas from students to let us live here and still decided to kick us off. Who was the one making that decision?”
The Globe reached out to Dean of Students Keith Paylo to clarify the confusion as his name is on the emails declining move-out exemption requests. Paylo requested all media inquiries go through Lou Corsaro, the university’s managing director of public relations.
“Point Park staff is working around the clock to make sure our campus community is safe, and that we are following guidance from federal, state and local governments,” Corsaro said. “Managing all the different moving parts during a worldwide crisis like this takes an extraordinary commitment from students, faculty and staff. That is what we are focused on.”
President of Point Park University Paul Hennigan commented on move-out exemptions in a previous interview on March 16.
“That’s being clarified today. We have a number of requests. We quite frankly have to get legal guidance…We’ll know in a day or two what the guidance is, but we have to make sure we follow all the federal laws and rules on making exceptions,” he said.
The following email sent out to students regarding extended residency only clarified that it would be granting very few exceptions to students, but not on what grounds which they would be accepted or denied.
Another student, who also asked to stay anonymous due to the nature of their situation, was denied despite the possibility that they could become homeless. However, the school sent her a second email after she was denied, letting her know that they had changed the decision as to whether or not she could stay.
“I applied to stay on campus because I don’t really have a stable home environment…They haven’t been helpful both times I’ve tried to move in and out and so with everything happening, they weren’t being very cooperative as far as coming to pick me up…If they rejected me, I would be facing possible homelessness,” the student said.
She noted that after reaching out for help from a Point Park professor, she was able to get a letter of acceptance.
“On Friday, I was denied, along with pretty much everyone else that I know…I reached out to a professor. She emailed the Student Life Office and told them that she was really concerned, and I knew that she was part of what helped me get accepted,” they said. “Later Friday night, I got an email and they said ‘Please disregard our last email. After being given additional information, we’ve changed our minds and you can stay on campus until the end of term.”
After this experience with Point Park, the student declared that their faith in the institution had been shaken, due to the university seemingly not taking the complaints of students seriously.
“I would really like to say that it seems like the university didn’t handle the situation well…it seems like they didn’t really care or read what we were submitting because they were pleas for help and for them being able to say ‘No, you have to leave,’ and not even offering any help to the students, it’s really heartbreaking.”