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We’ve learned from NYU: here’s how U of O is making move-in as easy as possible for you. Illustration: Dassar Kamran/Fulcrum

The University of Ottawa has set its move-in plans into motion, with new precautions to keep new first-year students safe and comfortable

Whether you’ve been on TikTok since the app first launched in 2018, or you downloaded it a few weeks into COVID-19, you probably saw a LOT of videos about New York University (NYU) this August.

Any incoming first-year U of O student, might be a little fearful after seeing these videos about NYU or University of North Carolina (UNC) on their ‘for you page’. Well, have no (or at least less) fear. The University of Ottawa doesn’t look like it’s going to be the subject of these TikTok trends any time soon.

Over the border, NYU enforced a mandatory fourteen-day quarantine for most incoming students this Fall, promising to provide three meals per day to those in isolation. This guarantee has since been upgraded to an offer of two meals and a $30 GrubHub coupon per day due to backlash from videos of substandard (and downright bizarre) meals that surfaced on TikTok.

But not many meals lived up to incoming students’ expectations, from single spread packages of cream cheese and Nutella for breakfast to a steak and watermelon salad as a vegan lunch; these meals have been strange, to say the least.

@nyuquarantine is a TikTok account dedicated to documenting NYU quarantine cuisine, and has garnered approximately 12,700 followers since the beginning of their 14-day quarantine period.

These issues aren’t limited to single schools; COVID-19 is affecting North American campus culture globally, and it’s undoubtedly difficult to prepare for a return to campus. 

Angela Taborek, a first-year management student living in the 90 U residence, said that the U of O has handled the complications of the incoming COVID-19 cohort remarkably well. Especially after a few confusing weeks over the summer, in which “frequent emails gave students incorrect move-in information, with slow responses to concerned emails.” 

The email situation improved throughout August, and incoming freshmen were eventually provided with detailed information on how to move in quickly and safely.

90 University residence, for instance, is operating at a reduced capacity this semester, with some suites now occupied by just one person. Elevators are also operating at a two-person maximum, and masks must be worn in all common areas. 

Unlike other return-to-school plans, there is no enforced quarantine (or even suggested social bubbling) for any domestic students arriving at  U of O. Only international students must complete a fourteen-day quarantine in which they are provided (edible, diet-appropriate) meals at Les Suites Hotel Ottawa before moving into their on-campus residences.

 This quarantine isn’t perfect; per Taborek, some of her cohort weren’t able to arrive in Ottawa in time to accommodate the university’s requirement, so they’re starting their university experiences completely online from their home countries. 

For the most part, though, the U of O seems to be taking the comfort and well-being of its incoming freshmen seriously.

There’s still a learning curve to come (we all know what’ll happen when new first-years discover the joys of Hull’s clubs and bars), but Taborek feels safe from COVID-19 despite being in a university setting.

“People understand the protocols, and people want to be smart. We’re paying attention to the news and the new cases. I think res[idence] is going to be fine,” she said.