Paramount residence hall to be used as quarantine space for ill or exposed students

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Media: Montse Landeros

The Paramount residence hall will be used to house students potentially exposed to or ill with COVID-19 in the fall.

The college plans to use the Paramount residence hall as a quarantine and isolation space for students who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19, an email sent to students Sunday afternoon with more details on Emerson’s reopening said.

Students originally assigned to live in Paramount will be “placed elsewhere,” Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe said in the email. Hoppe did not indicate that those moved out of Paramount would be shifted to hotels, but said the college is moving forward with plans to house some students in hotels a short distance from campus to allow for social distancing in residence halls. First-year students will not be assigned hotels, but it remains unclear what other students may be pushed out of typical on-campus living. It was announced in June that students living in triples would be reassigned to other spaces on campus as well.

Housing assignments are expected to be released July 17, the email said. 

Hoppe also provided further insight into what a socially-distanced campus may look like in the fall, with a minimum of six feet of distance between students in all spaces, including classrooms, theaters, common spaces, sidewalks, and student organization meeting spaces. 

“A room that could usually accommodate an [organization] meeting of 20 students will probably now only hold about 5 people,” the email reads.

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Some classes will move into bigger spaces on campus to account for social distancing guidelines. The Bill Bordy Theater, Multi-Purpose Room, and Cabaret Theater will all be used as classrooms in the fall, drastically reducing student organizations’ access to these spaces. 

Many of the details revealed to students in the email had already been reported to faculty members in open forums two weeks ago.

The email also indirectly acknowledged a number of social media accounts, including one entitled “Black at Emerson,” that have gained popularity amongst Emerson students in past weeks while posting anonymous student testimonials detailing experiences with racism and discrimination at the college. The accounts have surfaced amid a national reckoning on race, ignited by Black Lives Matter protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd.

Hoppe said he realizes Emerson hasn’t done enough to recognize students’ experiences with racism and power-based interpersonal violence at the college.

“The Emerson I envision is a place where students feel safe from the ravages of racism, power-based interpersonal violence, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and discrimination based on any aspect of identity or ability,” he wrote in the email. “I know we have to do better to realize that vision. This week we have begun conversations with groups of student leaders and staff to plan for continued action. I commit to being part of that change and to doing everything I can to make that vision a reality.”

Clarification: The email was sent to students, not the entire Emerson community.