POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Students at a Polk County college are scrambling to figure out what to do after a sudden change in policy this week leaves them without on-campus housing.
In an announcement this week, Florida Southern College President Dr. Anne Kerr restricted on-campus housing to certain groups of students.
Students start moving in at the end of the month.
Students allowed to live on campus are:
– Accounting and early MAcc, nursing, performing arts majors, education students completing internships, and P3 students and other science majors involved in research and/or selected projects
– Honors students, Hollingsworth, Jenkins and McClurg Scholars, and Hollis Fellows
– New first-year and new transfer students
– Various student groups, including: Resident Advisors, Orientation leaders, Tech Buddies, ROTC, SGA executive officers, and more
Many students are not happy with this decision.
“They wait until we’re moving in a few weeks and conveniently after most students have already paid tuition and locked in for the semester,” said Cole Sasser, a sophomore from Davenport.
He was on campus Wednesday to change his status to “commuter.”
“To me and everybody else, it kind of seems like students were more of a dollar sign to them and they just kind of do whatever they can make sure they’re not going to lose tuition money and things like that,” he said.
Sasser is no longer allowed to live in the fraternity suites at Florida Southern College because his major is ineligible for on-campus housing.
“Some students are basically told that their major is not important enough to be on campus or be able to take classes in person so it’s just not a level playing field the way they’ve set it up this year,” he said.
More than 1,300 people have signed an online petition urging leadership to reconsider.
If students cannot commute, they have to learn virtually while other classmates are on campus.
“My reaction, obviously I’m devastated and really hurt,” said Olivia Tuccillo, a business major from Sarasota. “I have no clue what to do next. I’ve been looking at finding a place to rent but that’s really expensive and I’d have to buy furniture.”
FSC leadership declined to do an interview with 8 On Your Side.
“We have seen Florida and Polk County become virus hot spots; learned more about how young people can spread the virus asymptomatically; witnessed institutions across the country struggle with positive cases; and heard sobering predictions from medical experts about virus spread this fall,” wrote Dr. Anne Kerr, the President of Florida Southern College, in the announcement this week.
She called the decision the most difficult of her career.
She assured students they will have the same level of education, in-person and virtually when classes resume September 1.
“While coursework and faculty instruction will look different from in-person classes, it will be the same material taught by the same professors at an equal level of excellence,” she wrote.
CVS will be hosting a rapid response testing center on campus, according to Dr. Kerr, that can test 60 people and provide results in 20 minutes.
Symptomatic students, faculty and staff will be tested. Campus members will also be tested randomly.
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