'It was a frenzy': Marquette students scramble to quarantine, grad workers union blames university

’It was a frenzy’: Marquette students scramble to quarantine, grad workers union blames university

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Hundreds of students at Marquette University will spend the next two weeks stuck in their dorm rooms after university leaders announced that residents of Schroeder Hall will have to quarantine.

The quarantine began on Monday, Sept. 14. at 10 p.m. and is in effect until Sept. 28. Students choosing to stay at Schroeder Hall cannot leave except for medical appointments.

Sophomore Jack Clark was one of a number of students who packed up and left the residence hall, choosing to spend the 14-day quarantine at his parents' house in Racine.

"It's really depressing. I mean, this is our college years and they're kind of being wasted during this whole pandemic, and it just really sucks," Clark said. "I have a few friends that are staying the full two weeks. They're not too thrilled about it."

His mom, Kelly Clark, said the timing of the quarantine is what is shocking to her, considering the students have only been in school for a few weeks. She said because they live in Racine, it made sense for him to come home for the time being.

"I just think since we are so close, we have that luxury. It's just probably a better idea to be home. He can do all of the work remotely and then the plan is he will return as soon as the two weeks is over," she said.

In a news release, university officials said the quarantine is in response to a confirmed cluster of COVID-19 cases. They said about 3 percent of the 373 people who live at Schroeder Hall tested positive, which would mark about 11 positive cases.

University leaders directed the students to quarantine in accordance with the City of Milwaukee Health Department. During Tuesday's city-county briefing, Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik was asked about the situation at Marquette but deferred to university leaders to answer further questions.

"We will continue to be in close contact with (Marquette) about their situation, but we did advise them that they needed to quarantine that dorm," Kowalik said.

Students said they only had a few hours notice on Monday night.

"It was a frenzy. People were freaking out. Everyone went to like the grocery store just to stock up on food, drinks, stuff like that, so it was kind of chaotic," Jack Clark said.

Some students told CBS 58 that they believed the university had handled the situation well, but others are left feeling frustrated.

Sarah Kizuk, a research assistant at Marquette, said news of the quarantine was shocking and grad students were worried about their students. She's a member of the Marquette Academic Workers Union, which is made up of graduate student workers and non-tenure track/adjunct faculty.

"I have heard from a number of colleagues that they are hearing from their students. Their students are reaching out to them. They are afraid, confused. They don't know what they're going to do," Kizuk said.

She said what happened at Schroeder Hall reflects that the university’s reopening plans were not safe. But the union says students aren’t to blame.

"Administration President (Michael) Lovell and the Board of Trustees told us that it was safe for people to come back. They created this opening plan. They put students in those dorms. They put students in this position. They put faculty in this position. We squarely hold them responsible," Kizuk said.

The group Marquette Faculty United tweeted about the situation Tuesday saying, "The situation at Schroeder Hall was predictable and preventable. Our entire campus community deserves better."

CBS 58 reached out to Marquette University leaders for comment, but a spokesperson said no one would be available for interviews or to provide any additional information.

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