UMD students in dorms might not have roommates this fall, Pines says in radio interview

Darryll Pines, former dean of the University of Maryland's engineering school, started his job as university president on July 1, 2020. (Eric Harkleroad/The Diamondback)

In an interview with The Kojo Nnamdi Show on Thursday, University of Maryland President Darryll Pines fielded questions about housing and online learning, as students prepare to return to classes in the fall.

Pines outlined guidelines to ensure the safety of the campus community, including personal protocols and the de-densification of campus dorms. Currently, dorms are set at 48 percent capacity, Pines said.

As it stands, there are no two-person, three-person or four-person suites, Pines said. This means students won’t need to have roommates, according to current numbers.

But the numbers are subject to change, Pines said, since some parents might request their students room with a friend in the same environment, as part of a “social contract.” Although, that decision is also not quite finalized, he added.

[Living in a UMD dorm this year requires agreeing to new terms. Some say they’re unfair.]

Pines also answered a question from a parent about leases for on-campus apartments that work under a public-private partnership with the university. Recently, a surge of students has been fighting to terminate leases they’d signed in the early stages of the pandemic for apartments in South Campus Commons and Courtyards.

Pines clarified that the university doesn’t “completely control” the operations in these apartments.

“We are in constant conversations with them to find an approach and solutions to the fact that possibly some of our tenants, our students, may want to get out of their leases,” Pines said. “It’s hopeful that in the next few days, we will have some solutions for you.”

Another parent asked how the university will make decisions about closing campus in the case of a coronavirus resurgence, and a student asked about the safety of housing on the campus.

Pines said any decisions about shifting classes entirely online will come from guidance from the Prince George’s County’s Department of Health.

“We may have to pivot in a 24-hour period to fully online,” he said.

[Incoming UMD freshmen debate on-campus living amid mostly virtual fall semester]

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