Spring 2020 Moving of Belongings Letters and FAQs

The following information is being adapted from the emails and letters sent by Lou Stark and Richard Jamieson. If you need more information before you start this process, or if you have additional questions, please reach out to: belongings-move@case.edu.

We will make every effort to keep this page up to date. Please check back often, and check your email, for any updates.

Given the wide interest in this issue, this message is being sent to all undergraduates.

To Our Students with Belongings on Campus:

Below are the responses we can provide at this time to some of the common questions you have asked. As noted in our earlier email, in some instances we cannot provide a definitive response, and in others the answer may well change due to evolving circumstances.

1. Why are you doing this to us?

We are removing belongings from rooms for two reasons: First, to provide enough fully vacant spaces for students still living on campus (e.g. those who had no other viable choice) to be housed farther apart and thus reduce the likelihood of transmission.

Second, we have begun to receive requests from our hospital partners to help provide places for health providers to sleep in between giving care, and also for potential space for patient overflow from their hospitals.

2. But how can you give us no notice and contradict earlier assurances that we would be able to collect our belongings later?

We made those statements because we believed at the time that no one else would need to use that space. Since then, the rate of increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio (and in our region in particular) has accelerated significantly; we communicated with you as soon as the prospect of having to remove your belongings became a strong likelihood.

3. Why didn’t you explain why this dramatic change was even necessary?

In the message you received March 26, we wrote that we needed to separate students still here and also provide separate housing for students who required isolation (either because they had been exposed to someone with the infection or had begun showing symptoms of the infection).

The first reason, then, was to try to (a) spare students from infection—both by having them live farther apart and by separating them from the exposed and ill—and (b) monitor for symptoms among those exposed and care for those already ill.

The second involved requests from our hospital partners for both nearby places for their health providers to sleep, and areas to house overflow patients.

4. Don’t you understand that entering our rooms represents an unacceptable breach of privacy?

To be clear, we would much prefer not to have to enter your living spaces. But we also do not want your belongings to be in the presence of exposed or ill students, or caregivers returning from treating patients in hospitals. And, as explained previously, allowing you to return to campus now represents an unacceptable risk to you and the students still living on campus.

In addition, neither staff nor movers are going into your rooms to search for deeply personal or illicit materials. Even if staff do see possessions that violate university policies, we would involve student conduct or public safety staff only if those items represented a significant, serious offense. Given the life-and-death stakes of this public health crisis, we have more critical concerns than pursuing disciplinary action for modest infractions.

5. I have important (and/or expensive, fragile, deeply meaningful, etc.) belongings in my room. Can the university guarantee they will not be damaged, lost, forgotten or stolen?

We cannot make any blanket guarantees, but we can take steps to reduce the likelihood of such unfortunate outcomes. They include having:

· only university staff collect the small items that are needed urgently and/or valuable. They will enter rooms in pairs; and

· university staff accompany movers who pack up the rooms after the small items previously noted have been removed.

Should a student experience an unfortunate outcome regarding belongings removed from a campus residence, the university will address it based on the details of that outcome. Just as the university cannot give an all-inclusive guarantee, it also cannot provide a single answer that covers every possible situation.

6. I am a senior who planned to discard and/or donate many of the belongings in my room. How can I avoid having to pay for storage and/or shipping of items that I do not want?

I have larger items (clothes, shoes, etc.) that I need quickly and others that I would prefer to be stored until I return in August. Whom do I contact to communicate my wishes? How can I ensure my directions are followed?

My roommates and I individually own several items that are now all together in the common area of our suite. Is there a way we can tell the movers what items belong to whom? Could we FaceTime with them while they are in the room? Submit lists? Some other approach?

Our first priority is to gather the small items that residents of the PMAs, Kusch and Glaser request be packed and shipped to them.

As a reminder, these residents must complete this form detailing small items to be shipped by 3 p.m. (EDT) TOMORROW, March 30.

The next priority is to work with our movers to determine what processes we can develop to try to address specific situations like those detailed in the questions above. Once we are able to determine what is and is not possible, we will communicate with you about the processes you should follow.

7. Will the movers photograph and/or inventory all of the items taken from our rooms? Will the university provide additional insurance to protect us against potential significant financial losses we could incur as a result of this move?

We will not have answers to these questions until after conferring in more detail with the movers and also discussing cost implications of additional measures students have requested. Part of the reason we are using a single contractor with whom the university has previously worked is because of (a) our positive prior experiences and (b) the ability to negotiate lower prices in light of prior work together and the potential size of this move.

Adding new requirements could increase the overall cost, which would impact everyone whose belongings are moved.

8. I cannot afford to have my belongings stored or shipped. What should I do?

First, remember that the university is covering the cost of packing and shipping urgently needed and/or valuable items, as well as the cost of packing and storing belongings. Those who want to have additional larger items shipped to them will have to pay that expense themselves. If you have larger items you want shipped but lack the necessary resources, you can apply to the Student Emergency Fund for assistance.

9. What about our bicycles and scooters?

Bicycles and scooters may remain in the university’s bicycle storage rooms over the summer. We will provide additional information regarding how to retrieve bicycles and/or scooters earlier as soon as it is finalized.

10. When can I pick up my vehicle parked on campus?

The timing will depend on when Ohio officials lift the state’s stay-at-home order and the cessation of any other government directives affecting travel in Northeast Ohio. We will provide more specific guidance once it is available.
We recognize that these questions and answers do not address every one of the inquiries submitted, and that some of the responses are incomplete. Nevertheless, we hope the answers we were able to provide, along with today’s earlier message, at least address some of your most pressing concerns. 


Again, we will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Richard Jamieson
Vice President for Campus Services

To Our Students with Belongings in Residence Halls:

We have heard from many of you about yesterday’s email regarding removal of your belongings. We appreciate that you are surprised, angry, worried and, often, a combination of these and other emotions.

We too are upset, concerned and, most of all, truly sorry that developments here require such drastic action.

Nevertheless, the accelerating spread of this pandemic demands that we do so.

First, as noted yesterday, we must protect the health of students still living on campus.

Second, as has happened in other places around the country, we expect to be called upon to assist in this public health crisis. This week, state officials here said they expect that hospitals will need spaces in “hotels and dormitories.” We already have been approached by one asking for places for hospital workers to sleep when they cannot go home.

Clearing your rooms is not something the university wants to do. It is the only responsible step in the face of a health threat that has taken lives in this region, and will take more.

People, or things. At Case Western Reserve, people always come first.

Below are the “Frequently Asked Questions” we said would be coming today.

1. Why can’t I (and/or my family) come get my stuff?
The health and safety of our community requires that we minimize the presence of others on campus. Allowing hundreds of you to retrieve your belongings exacerbates an already risk-filled situation—not only for our students, but also for you (and/or your family).

In addition, the state of Ohio is under at Stay-at-Home order, meaning that only essential organizations are allowed to operate (higher education is included) and only essential employees are allowed to be present. Police in Cleveland and other municipalities have stopped individuals to require they prove their status.

2. Coming into our rooms and going through our things is an invasion of privacy. How can you defend that?
No one wishes more than we do that the university did not have to remove your belongings. We also wish that no one would have had to leave the campus residences, and that all classes and activities could have proceeded as planned.

This pandemic took those options away from us and so, as with remote learning, we are doing our best to adapt to the reality of the situation we face.

Neither the university nor the contracted movers have any interest in looking through your belongings. The goal is to pack them as carefully and expeditiously as possible, nothing more.

3. I have medications in my room that I will need soon; how can I get them?
We recommend you speak with your pharmacist about the possibility of an override. Health insurance companies are aware of the extenuating circumstances that COVID-19 has caused around the country. If that approach is not successful, you should contact your prescriber. Please keep in mind that all of these providers are quite busy right now, which may delay the arrival of your medication.

Students with additional medication questions should call Health Services (216.368.2450) during business hours.

4. What if you find something in our room that is against university policy or other rules?
Our primary concern is getting rooms packed and cleared, so we are not looking for violations to note or charge. That said, if such an item is found, the university’s response will depend on the specific nature of that item.

5. I have a fragile item in my room that is important to me and/or expensive. How is the university going to ensure that it is not damaged? What will you do if it is?
The university has contracted professional movers with whom it has worked previously. We are confident that they will pack breakable items with care. If items are damaged or broken, the university will address each matter with the owner(s).

6. I live with roommates and some of our belongings are mixed together. How will you know which items go in which person’s boxes?
Given the scale and urgency of these moves, we will not be able to make such distinctions. Students who shared living spaces will need to collaborate with one another to return any items that are not theirs to the actual owners.

7. I have some things that I need now, but the rest can be stored. Can I arrange to have some belongings shipped?
We are exploring the possibility of providing such an option, and will inform students as soon as we determine if it can be done.

8. Why do you have to remove belongings from every room? Can’t you just focus on a couple of residence halls?
Because of the imperative of ensuring proper distance among students still living here, and the inability to predict the extent of need for our spaces, we need to clear every available residence.

9. I live in a Greek House or a campus apartment. Does this decision apply to my stuff?
This decision applies only to Greek organizations whose houses are owned by Case Western Reserve. If you do not know the status of your Greek residence, contact your chapter president or Greek Life.

Campus apartments selected and occupied via the housing lottery will have the contents of their spaces packed and stored.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Richard Jamieson
Vice President for Campus Services