VCU removes student belongings from Honors College without telling residents

The VCU Honors College residence hall, which was originally built as a hospital, will hold patients if VCU Medical Center reaches capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak. CT file photo

Georgia Geen, Executive Editor

Students who lived in the Honors College this semester said yesterday they found out their belongings were being removed from the residence hall — which may house patients if capacity is exceeded at VCU Medical Center — from a series of videos posted to Facebook, which were later screen-recorded and posted to Twitter. 

VCU posted an update to its COVID-19 page at 7:30 a.m. Thursday saying the Honors College is one of the sites identified to house patients in case of overflow due to a surge of COVID-19 patients. The facility, which was built as a hospital, would accommodate non-COVID-19, low-acuity patients who have less severe ailments. 

According to one of the videos, recorded by a person who identified themselves as an employee, workers were given one day to remove and pack up student belongings and clear out the building. According to the update posted this morning, student belongings are being boxed, inventoried, labeled and relocated at no cost to the student. 

“These students are being contacted by Residential Life and Housing with more information on retrieving their belongings,” the statement reads. 

Minor modifications are being made to the building, according to the statement. In one video, the employee says new flooring is being put in and the walls painted, showing changes made to locations they identified as the third and fourth floors.

“We apologize for not communicating about this project sooner,” VCU tweeted at about 9 a.m.
“Using the Honors College residence hall as a potential hospital for overflow of non-COVID-19, low-level acuity patients was an emergency decision.”

Leah Tyrrell, a freshman who studies political science and mass communications, said someone sent the screen-recorded video to her floor’s GroupMe group message last night. 

“They didn’t even tell us they were going to be going into our rooms or anything,” Tyrrell said in a phone interview at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. “I literally found out about this like 20 minutes ago when someone sent that video.” 

An email sent to Honors College residents this morning says students can pick up their belongings from Richmond Commercial Services at 3215 Williamsburg Road. Beginning April 10, they must call to schedule a time to pick them up. The email says the items will remain in storage until Aug. 1. 

Tyrrell says she’s worried about her belongings getting damaged as they’re packed up — among them a TV, a printer, makeup, picture frames and other items. 

“I was shocked,” Tyrrell said. “I didn’t even think it was real. I literally started crying because I have really important things to me in there.”

Riley Layman, who also lives in the Honors College, also is worried about losing possessions. 

“Even if they are ‘labeling our stuff and putting it in storage for us to get later’ … it doesn’t lessen how violating and over the line this was of VCU to do,” Layman said in a text message. “All they had to do was inform us this would happen so we could be prepared and get all of our belongings.”

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story included the incorrect address for Richmond Commercial Services. 

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