VCU removes students' stuff to prep dorm for potential patients

Posted at 9:40 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 17:50:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- VCU notified students Thursday it was transforming some Honors College dorm rooms at 701 West Grace Street into overflow housing for potential patients amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

But students say they were not notified until after a video went viral of the dorm being cleared on Wednesday.

"This was completely the straw that broke the camel's back for me," VCU freshman Leah Tyrrell said. "One of my former floor mates sent that screen recording into a group chat for our floor and we were all really freaking out about it."

Tyrrell told CBS 6, students were originally told that they only needed to take essential items home and could come back later to get their things, back when the university closed due to COVID-19.

"I was really overwhelmed because this whole virus thing is already stressful," she said. "I was also sad honestly because that was my room, I had a lot of really important stuff in there. And I wanted to be the one to like move it out say goodbye to my freshman year and I feel like I was robbed of that opportunity and I didn't even get a warning about it."

VCU later apologized for not properly informing students.

"VCU and the VCU Health System are working with state and local officials to prepare in the event of a surge in patients caused by the COVID-19 epidemic that could exceed the total capacity at the VCU Medical Center," the university advised. "One of the sites that has been identified for potential non-COVID-19, low acuity patients is the Honors College residential housing, which originally was built as a hospital."

The university indicated "minor modification" to the building have begun.

"Students whose belongings are in the Honors College housing are being inventoried, boxed, labeled and relocated to storage at no cost to the student," VCU advised. "These students are being contacted by Residential Life and Housing with more information on retrieving their belongings."

Although Tyrrell says she is proud of her school wanting to help during such a chaotic and difficult time. She still believes the school should have reached out before hand.

"I can completely understand the panic of it all and just wanting to get everything done. I completely understand why that happened. But I just don't think its excusable...Students are already so stressed trying to adapt to this because its been a huge learning curve for everyone...But I just think its completely inexcusable."