Arkansas Tech University announced on Friday, March 20, that we will close our residence halls as of Friday, April 3, as part of our response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There will be some exceptions for students who do not have a suitable alternative, but for the most part, our student housing will be vacated for the remainder of the spring semester within two weeks. Our announcement of the closure included preliminary information that ATU would not be able to provide housing refunds for the percentage of the spring semester that is remaining.
There were many reasons for this initial decision. First, student housing contracts at ATU include a no refunds due to emergencies clause. There are also many unanswered questions about the possible negative effects on students and staff if the university issues housing refunds.
I understand there is considerable fear and uncertainty about our collective and individual future. It is for that reason that we are exploring every option to make this situation as right as we can. There are few easy answers in our world right now. We are exploring every option and working diligently to do our best for our students and their families. We also have a responsibility to support the salaries of employees whose livelihood is based on our student housing program and account for the ongoing costs of our housing facilities, even when vacant.
I ask our students and their families for patience, understanding and grace as we analyze every angle of this complex issue. Please know that we will be back in contact with you as soon as possible.
My pledge to you is that we will reach a resolution that serves our students and their families to the greatest extent possible while ensuring the financial stability of the university so that we may continue to fulfill our mission of student access and student success as well as our commitment to faculty and staff.
Dr. Robin E. Bowen
Arkansas Tech University