Editor’s note: Reporters Hillis and DeMarrais spoke to family members who plan to attend Ole Miss for this story.
Nearly 300 universities in the United States have closed their campuses for the rest of the semester, including the University of Mississippi.
With the shutdown, incoming freshmen may not have the chance to visit their future home anytime soon. However, the university is trying to stay in contact with these soon-to-be campus residents.
“We know it’s a tough time for them, and we want to support them in any way we can,” said Jim Zook, UM’s chief marketing and communications officer.
Riley DeMarrais is a high school senior from New Jersey. The Ole Miss-bound student says she and her classmates are missing out on a lot of meaningful high school experiences already.
“These events that I have been looking forward to since I was a freshman,” DeMarrais said, “like graduation, prom, and all the events we have through school are just done.”
And if Freshmen Orientation sessions get canceled, incoming student Haden Hillis says he and others will have another loss.
“We’re just going to be missing out on meeting new people,” said Hillis, who is coming to Ole Miss from Missouri.
With the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, the university is planning for as many situations as possible.
“We’re definitely taking a look at all summer activities right now. Not just orientations, but summer camps, that we host on campus,” said Zook.
And with so much of the future unknown, some students worry that they may still be in limbo for the fall.
“Everybody always talks about how college is the best years of their life — and you just get to have lots of fun—and it would suck if we didn’t get to have that experience our freshman year,” said Garrett Henson, an incoming freshman from Missouri.
The university is making an effort to make sure students in the admission pipeline are kept in the loop on decisions. Right now, they’re primarily communicating with admitted students through email.
DeMarrais said she is confident that she’ll be an Ole Miss student in August.
“I think that if the events get worse and potentially students don’t go back in the fall that they will reach out and I think they will have plans to accommodate the incoming freshman.”