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Everything you need to know about Fall housing: Upperclassman applications, off-campus buses and more

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Juniors and seniors have until Friday, July 31 to apply to live on campus for the Fall semester, after Duke announced Sunday that it was scaling back its reopening plans. 

A Sunday message from President Vincent Price outlined plans to reduce the campus residential population by 30% by limiting on-campus housing to first-years and sophomores, as well as juniors and seniors who have “specific needs for campus housing because of their personal or academic situations.” Those students now must request housing.

The Fall 2020 Housing Access Request form is available on DukeHub as of Monday and will remain open until Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Decisions will be announced by Monday, Aug. 3.

There are limited housing spaces available, according to the Keep Learning website, which was created to answer students’ questions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requests for housing will be approved for those students whose “academic progress and personal well being significantly depend on being in Duke-provided housing,” the website states.

Housing applications will be reviewed by a team of individuals in Student Affairs, Student Disability and Accommodations, and Undergraduate Education. Completing the application is not a binding agreement; students may decline a housing offer after being approved.

“Duke will consider on-campus housing requests from students whose personal or family situation poses significant challenges to completing their studies at their permanent residence,” the website states. 

Circumstances that might fall within such requirements include housing or food insecurity, safety and security concerns, high financial need or unresolvable internet inaccessibility, according to the website.. 

For those whose housing application is not approved, Duke hopes to “identify and connect students to ongoing remote support and resources that will help to navigate this time of uncertainty,” according to a reopening FAQ.

The reduction of students on campus allows for a safer environment and a more manageable population for testing, quarantine and other health services, according to the FAQ. Normally, more than 85% of undergraduates live in Duke housing. Now, juniors and seniors are encouraged in the FAQ to stay home and take online classes.

In the spring semester, if “conditions remain stable or improve,” juniors and seniors will be welcomed back on campus and given priority for Duke-provided housing, according to the FAQ page. First-years and sophomores may join them if possible.

First-years were given priority for fall housing due to their need for academic advising and support, according to the FAQ. Sophomores followed suit for similar reasons. 

The announcement about reduced on-campus capacity came a little more than three weeks before the beginning of the semester Aug. 17. Undergraduates will move in between Aug. 6 and 15, according to a Sunday email to faculty from Provost Sally Kornbluth.

First-year housing assignments were announced July 17, per the FAQ, and sophomore assignments will be given by July 30, as will re-assignments of some first-year students to create more space on West Campus. The FAQ, released Sunday, states that most first-year students will be in single rooms with a shared bathroom, while some sophomores who identified a preferred roommate will be assigned to a double room.

Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life, told The Chronicle in a Wednesday email that Duke plans to house all sophomores in single rooms if possible. 

Although the Keep Learning website acknowledges the tight timeline to complete the housing application, it emphasizes a commitment “to providing a thorough yet expeditious process.”

Students who are approved for Duke housing will be distributed among residence halls on East and West Campus, as well as the space in the Avana apartments, the Blue Light apartments and the Washington Duke Inn.

Students who stored items from their dorm rooms will have their belongings delivered to Duke housing or a new residence in the “immediately surrounding Durham area,” or shipped to their home address, according to the FAQ. Students can keep their items in storage if they choose, but must pay for the expense beginning in September.

Duke Transit routes are being changed to reach students in the Duke-provided off-campus housing, but will be running with limited capacity. More information about bus schedules will be available Aug. 6.

Editor's note: This article was updated Wednesday to clarify that Duke will house all sophomores in single rooms if possible, according to Joe Gonzalez. 

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