Community Highlight: Stony Brook University
Like most universities, Stony Brook University in NY evacuated most of its students when it shut down operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However some students have extenuating circumstances that prevent them from quarantining elsewhere; international students, for example, have no way to get home because of the travel ban. They, as well as other students who can’t leave for personal reasons, make up two thousand people still living on Stony Brook campus.
Everyone, including the students on campus, take classes online but those staying at the university still need to eat. The university thus devised two safe avenues for their students to get three meals a day without risking the health and safety of themselves or the university staff.
GET Mobile App
Students can order snacks and essential items from on-campus stores through Stony Brook’s GET Mobile app. This way, when they need to make retail purchases, they don’t have to go out in public and risk exposure. Through the app, students can order cleaning supplies, toiletries, oatmeal and even cold cuts. So many essentials are gone from traditional stores anyway; shelves across the country have only just begun to restock small amounts of paper towels, toilet paper and the like. With GET Mobile, students they don’t have to go without necessaries like these.
The app connects from the university’s Market store, certain Starbucks locations and other campus retail to give students access to a variety of groceries and essential items. They can pay for these supplies with their Wolfie Wallet university debit account, their Dining Dollars meal plan, or regular credit and debit cards connected to their bank accounts.
The GET Mobile App allows students to remain isolated without sacrificing their safety or peace of mind. Additionally, the variety of acceptable payment methods means that their Wolfie Wallet balance and the Dining Dollars that they purchased at the beginning of the semester doesn’t go to waste; instead, they have a way to use what they paid for and get what they need simultaneously.
Brand New Dining Halls
Two of Stony Brook’s dining halls, East Side and West Side, remain open for use. Keeping these functional allows students to get three square meals a day without constantly paying for groceries, and also accommodates people who don’t have the money to constantly buy food or a kitchen to cook in.
Thus the university temporarily reorganized their dining hall system to protect both students and workers. They’ve implemented the following changes:
Students can come in, pick up their food and bring it back to their housing. They no longer have the option to sit down and eat in the dining hall. This will stop people from packing close together for long periods of time.
Additionally, the dining hall now has markers on the floor so students can stay six feet apart and maintain a safe distance from one another.
No one swipes IDs anymore; rather, students enter the facility by scanning a barcode on their phone. This cuts down on interactions between students and workers and prevents them from passing items back and forth.
Hand sanitizer has been stationed outside both buildings so that students can safely apply some before and after entering either facility.
Everyone gets disposable gloves when they arrive that they must keep on until after they’ve exited the building. This prevents everyone touching the same high-trafficked surfaces, such as door handles, with bare hands.
Each dining hall has an entrance open on one side of the building and the exit on the other. Everyone must go through the correct way to ensure students come in a single file line and avoid close contact as well as crowded doorways.
The menu rotates each day so students can have a varied diet. They always have kosher, halal and vegan options and the dishes served range from meat, vegetables, comfort food, dessert and more so everyone can find something to sate their appetite and fit their needs.
Dining hall staff fills a takeout container with food as students go down the line picking what they want. This reduces how many people touch the container in total and prevents students from all handling the same utensils.
Stony Brook University has instituted such developments so that they can continue accommodating their 2K on-campus residents through the rest of spring semester. In addition to these changes, they’ve also have other protocols in place for students who get sick with COVID-19 or any other illnesses.
First the university will direct them to the nearest student health services center. People can also procure a Sick Tray Form from their R.A. or residence hall director, which allows a friend to pick up dining hall food for them and deliver it to their door. To further spread applicable information, the front page of the dining services website rotates out informational messages that detail New York’s COVID-19 safety protocols so students can better protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.
Stony Brook University, like many other colleges around the world, have to adapt to this new COVID-19 normalcy wherein some students remain on campus and need applicable accommodations. In these cases, universities all over are making the necessary changes to ensure their students can continue to eat three square, healthy meals a day. Universities need to ensure the continued care and protection of their students without sacrificing their welfare of that of university employees.
As we continue to adapt to COVID-19 and come to better understand the long-term adjustments that are needed to ensure everyone still has access to basic necessities, Stony Brook University demonstrates the level of care that similar institutions can take to support their students through the rest of the school year.