Convincing Ivy League school to help with coronavirus efforts is like pulling teeth
- Yale University initially refused to house first responders in its dorms amid the coronavirus crisis.
- The Ivy League institution said there just wasn't enough time to move out students' belongings.
- Another local university, however, was happy to help in any way it could.
Yale University initially denied a request from local government officials to offer its dorm space to first responders with family members who have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus.
New Haven, Connecticut Mayor Justin Elicker asked both the University of New Haven as well as Yale University to open their dorms to first responders risking their lives to treat and transport coronavirus patients. The University of New Haven agreed, but Yale University initially refused, according to the New Haven Register. Instead, the Ivy League institution, with a $30 billion endowment, offered $1 million to help.
“UNH has rolled out the red carpet for us," the mayor told the local newspaper. "They have worked to quickly get students’ belongings out of the dorms and they are working with us to address other logistical and liability hurdles. We are quite close to finalizing an agreement with them so that our police officers and firefighters can begin moving into the space in the coming days.”
Yale University, on the other hand, wasn't so willing to lend a hand- at least not at first.
Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart explained to the New Haven Register why helping out in a time of national crisis just wasn't feasible for an Ivy League school with an endowment of more than $30 billion.
“Our student rooms still contain their belongings, but we have teams planning the feasibility of packing and storing all the student belongings so that the rooms could be utilized,” Peart said. “We are pursuing schemes that involve professional movers and packers, and using temporary storage. The process will take weeks, as all of the residence hall rooms on campus are filled with student belongings. As soon as we have been able to clear any space, we have informed the mayor that we will let him know."
"We all wish the situation on our campus were different, but because our students had already gone home for spring recess when we implemented our social distancing restrictions, the rooms aren’t ready for others to live in them," Peart added.
Elicker was furious by Yale's refusal to house first responder heroes, suggesting that the crisis revealed the institution's true character.
“My response is this: if your house is burning down and you asked a neighbor if your kids could stay at your house and your neighbor said ‘no,’ but here is a check so you could stay at the Econo Lodge across town, what would that tell you about your neighbor? It is in these times of crisis when people are exposed for their true selves. Everyone needs to do their part at this very difficult time and writing a check does not exempt you from that fact."
One day later, Yale University announced it would make available as many as 300 beds to first responders, citing the mayor's "frustration."
"Yesterday, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker expressed frustration with Yale University’s lack of a swift positive response to his request for the university to provide housing for first responders to COVID-19, Yale University President Peter Salovey said. "We are eager to help New Haven with this need. We have been working to make this possible—and we agree that we should move as quickly as we can, in service of people doing extraordinary work on behalf of the New Haven community."
"Toward that end, we will make 300 beds available by the end of this coming week to first responders and hospital personnel," Salovey added.