Like most policies that apply to universities, if storing items is essential and feasible for universities, then a case-by-case review has been used, and students can be charged should items be stored.
Stephen from Bucknell University stated, “We quickly created a pack-n-ship option for students who were not able to get home. The plan was to have staff Facetime/video chat with students while in their room to determine what should be shipped or donated. We also have the ability to store items. Our plan for storage would allow either to use our storage area on campus or store it in the room for next year. Since we gave students a week to move out, while they were on spring break, we would only charge the cost of shipping.”
While Emily from Chapman University stated, “The University will not pack and store items at this time; however, we have a proxy form so students can send family, friends, or an independently hired individual to retrieve items. We have also had a partnership with Dorm Room Movers-they pickup/store/drop-off over the summer but are independently contracting movers to work out deals for shipping back students’ items (for a fee).”
To assist with packing and storing items for each student, you are also able to leverage StarRez to print labels and assign them to boxes in storage, keeping everything in place and tied to people’s entries. Proxy forms can be added, and processes put in place to allow students to send someone to collect their items.
While some universities aren’t allowing this to occur, Rona from Rochester University of Technology stated, “If students left items in the room and do not want to return to move out physically, they can agree to virtual check out. All card access is removed, and keys must be mailed in as of the time the agreement is submitted. They have until the end of the semester to pick up items. Staff will enter the space and do an inspection, unplug electronics, and throw away perishable goods. (No compensation for perishable goods). We send a list of local storage companies or shipping companies when an agreement is signed. We hold them to the terms and conditions of housing for abandoned property, removal costs for abandoned property, and damages. Part of the virtual check out process (they can update this at any time) has a place for the student to indicate who will be returning to campus to pick up items (themselves, a friend, family, professional company) and select an appointment time to have a staff member meet them and escort them to the room to remove items.”
While strict policies have applied to this in the past, universities are having to adapt to these unprecedented changes as they occur, and using StarRez has enabled these changes to happen in real-time and from a virtual basis. There is also the ability to create an express checkout process that allows students to self-checkout. You can find more information on this in our Emergency Management (COVID-19) response article (requires login).
When students return to campus, we encourage using our appointments module to set up a time for when each student can come in, and staff can help facilitate getting their belongings. There is also the resource module to setup makeshift lockers or different areas in storage. You can then label items to keep track of all student belongings.
Greg from the University of Chicago stated, “Items not claimed, put into on-campus storage or marked for packing and shipping will be discarded, and the student may be assessed charges associated with disposal.”
If choosing to allow students to store their items on campus, you will have the ability to charge a fee for this by using our accounts module.
The majority of universities will follow their standard policies on abandonment. Leslie from Coastal Carolina stated, “If a student is not responsive and we have followed our protocol, we may discard/donate the items. We will try everything we can to get them to come to retrieve their items, or we will ship them.”
If you are choosing to use any of the tools, as mentioned in this article, please reach out to the StarRez team to see how we can help you adapt to changing scenarios to achieve the best possible outcome. We’re here to help guide processes and continuously evolve our solution so it meets your daily needs.
As this situation evolves, here are some helpful resources in your discussions and planning: