EXCLUSIVE: 'He is hungry, isolated, cold': Parent of Ohio U student sounds alarm on quarantine dorm experience

Emanuel Seybolt was quarantined in university-provided housing for three days at the beginning of the spring semester, and is accusing the university of not providing adequate food service.

The university is currently facing a lawsuit challenging COVID-19 mandates.

A concerned Ohio University parent is blowing the whistle on the quality of the school’s quarantine dorms after her son’s visit resulted in limited access to food.

Margo Seybolt vocalized her concerns to Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations Gillian Ice, through which she cited limited access to food as one of the challenges her son, Emanuel Seybolt, experienced during his three-day quarantine after returning to campus for the spring semester.

He ordered food at 6:43pm and never received a meal. He is saying he is hungry, isolated, cold, tired of hearing the person next to him coughing and the banging noises below him,” Seybolt wrote in an email to Ice obtained by Campus Reform

Ice responded to the email to express the protocols of the university align with the Ohio Department of Health, and stated her regrets for the “inconvenience.”

“The established protocols at Ohio University are in accordance with the Ohio Department of Health and designed to keep the campus as safe as possible,” Ice wrote. “ I regret that this has been an inconvenience for him.”

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Emanuel was instructed to quarantine in the university-sponsored dormitory on Jan. 10 after being notified of a positive PCR test taken on Jan. 6. Per university guidelines, all students who reside in university housing were required to take a Covid-19 test prior to returning to campus in January. 

While in the quarantine dorms, students are not permitted to leave the room unless for approved activities such as laundry, testing, or emergencies. 

Food is permitted to be delivered, however, from either delivery sites such as Instacart or Doordash, or can be ordered online using the Culinary Service department’s form. Emanuel reported utilizing the form on Jan. 10. However, the order was not delivered until the next day.

“I didn’t get any food or anything,” Emanuel told Campus Reform. “I was worried, like what if this keeps happening?” 

Emanuel said that while he did have snacks he brought to the dorm, he did not know how long his quarantine would last. The order arrived the following day after placing another order via the form, along with “2 bottles of water and 1 Gatorade.” 

“He is saying he is hungry, isolated, cold, tired of hearing the person next to him coughing and the banging noises below him,” Seybolt wrote in her email.

In addition to delayed food service, additional concerns raised by the pair include low temperatures, inadequate bedding, shared bathrooms, and loud noises heard within the dorm.

“Sick people have to share a bathroom. People who aren’t sick have to share a bathroom with people who are sick,” Seybolt addressed. “I feel so bad for students who go there and feel sick. This is mental and physical abuse.”

“When I got there, they had blankets and things like that, but I didn’t realize how cold it was in the room. It was, like, sixty degrees,” Emanuel recalled. 

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Seybolt posed additional questions to Ice about the treatment of the students in isolation, including if they are able to “go outside and get much needed sunshine” and if they have access to “water and electrolytes.”

“I will be letting many people know about this violation of human rights not only directed at my son, but everyone else in the dorm that reminds me of prison,” she wrote. 

While the test read positive, Emanuel did not display symptoms.

Ohio University was named in a lawsuit spearheaded by Mendenhall Law Group that represents 15 students and one faculty member of the university. The complaint seeks to challenge “the statutory and constitutional validity of Defendants’ vaccination and health measure mandate.” 

The university vaccination mandate went into effect Aug. 2021. 

Currently, students are required to submit proof of booster vaccination as well as continue to wear masks “in public indoor spaces on OHIO [sic] campuses, and on public transportation.” 

Mandatory weekly testing is required for select students, regardless of vaccination status, and includes on-campus residents, students or faculty with an approved exemption, and new students who have not yet complied with the vaccine mandate.

The plaintiffs argue that the mandate is in violation of R.C. 3792.04Article 1. Section 1. of the Ohio Constitution, and R.C. 2905.12.

The law group has filed three additional suits on behalf of plaintiffs challenging COVID-19 mandates at Bowling Green State University, Miami University, and the University of Cincinnati. 

“I just want people to be aware of what’s going on,” Emanuel said. 

Campus Reform reached out to Ice, Ohio University, and Culinary Services for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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