Five days after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the metro area, residents of the Manhattan campus learned they would be displaced from their collegiate homes for the rest of the semester.
In an email obtained by the Torch sent from the Manhattan campus Student Life to students, the cleanup and rebuilding process of the area surrounding that campus is expected to continue for months.
“While the University will be working around the clock to bring the Murray Street campus back online, the semester will resume for Manhattan students on the Queens campus including classes, dining, activities, and housing as required,” the email said.
Students were given two options when it came to living arrangements–they could choose to either live in Queens campus housing or receive a prorated refund of their room-and-board if they decided to live off-campus.
Students were allowed to return to the Manhattan campus to retrieve their possessions on either Nov. 4 or 6.
Gabriel Santacruz, a junior Manhattan resident student, said that it’s been a challenging few days between the damage Sandy wreaked on his home campus and then being relocated to the Queens campus.
“I have been doing good,” Santacruz said. “Just depressed about having to be relocated. The entire experience was a nightmare.”
Sanatacruz said he was pleased with the Queens Campus Residence Life, saying he believes they have done the best they could given the emergency situation. But Santacruz added that he is frustrated with how the situation was handled by the University as a whole.
“I feel like the Residence Directors have done the best they can with the resources they were given,” Santacruz said. “Manhattan campus students were just tossed in random buildings regardless of the conditions of the room. St. John’s I believe handled the situation carelessly.”
The University held a “town hall” style meeting during common hour Nov. 8 and invited St. John’s Manhattan Residents to attend and express their concern about the entire situation. Santacruz said he was unable to attend because he was helping a Manhattan resident move onto the Queens campus during that time.
Rosanna Chiu, a junior, described the transition from Manhattan to Queens as extremely difficult and upsetting for her. “I haven’t felt human since I’d moved into Queens,” she said. “I don’t prefer the Queens life.”
Chiu’s situation is troublesome because she works in Manhattan; she said she used to walk to work from the Manhattan campus. That’s obviously not possible anymore.
“Basically, we have been torn away from our home, work, and the busy life we had established in the city,” she said. “Everything is less convenient now.”
Chiu now lives in the Queens Residence Halls, saying she resides with roommates she didn’t even know a few weeks ago. It’s a big change from what her life was like prior to the storm.
“The Manhattan campus is more than a building,” Chiu said. “It is people’s homes and classrooms, a hub of activity by people who want to succeed, and for people to reside in while they try to make it big out there.”