Occupancy, Residence Life and Dining | St. Lawrence University Always Forward: Returning to St. Lawrence

Occupancy, Residence Life and Dining

We understand that questions about dining options as well as campus life in our residence halls, theme houses, townhouses, and Greek houses, continue to be top of mind for students and parents as we navigate the new normal together. We’ve thought carefully through a plan that maintains the spirit of our close-knit residential community while maintaining a safe and healthy living environment for students on campus.

Campus Occupancy

To preserve community health and safety, our planning teams determined that the maximum number of students on campus at any one time is 1,800 students. Staff and faculty spent thousands of hours considering every possible option and reviewing state and local health requirements before determining that 1,800 is our maximum safe on-campus occupancy. 

This includes adhering to NYS and public health official guidelines and consideration of a broad range of elements of our campus infrastructure, from appropriate isolation and quarantine space, to the capacity of our dining facilities, to the size and layout of classrooms, to the number and location of bathrooms, to the flow of foot traffic and airflow in buildings, and much more.

Our 1,800-student capacity does not include pre-approved commuters whose permanent home residence allows them to live and dine at home or those students previously approved to live off-campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. The 1,800 students does include members of the Greek system because while some houses have their own meal plan, the University would assume responsibility for quarantine or isolation of these students should they be exposed to COVID-19. Commuting students would quarantine or isolate at home. Students pre-approved to live off campus but not at home may be offered quarantine space if available. 

In a normal semester, on-campus capacity is lower than total enrollment (approximately 2,400 during the 2019-20 year) because of students studying off campus. With no abroad/off-campus programs planned at least for fall 2020, we are not able to house all students who wish to take classes.

Residence Halls, Townhouses, Suites, and Theme Houses

We are able to house the planned 1,800 students and meet the acceptable de-densification ratios in each residential building by adhering to a 5:1 or 6:1 bed:toilet ratio. This ratio allows for mandated social distancing in bathrooms. 

To meet the goal of 1,800 students, the University entered into a lease agreement with the Best Western University Inn hotel where 25 were housed during the Fall 2020 semester.

Community Assistants will provide a roommate agreement to each student at the beginning of each semester. Room changes will not be permitted during the semester unless it is an emergency situation as determined by Residence Life.

The factors that guided the development of the housing plan include:

  • Achieving a quarantine space threshold between 5-7% of current occupancy.
  • Meeting student expectations about bathroom ratios and frequency of bathroom cleaning.
  • Increasing the number of “safe rooms” (for those who report sexual violence or rooms for medical accommodations that occur during the academic year) and vacant rooms available for emergency room changes.
  • Permitting, in accordance with state guidelines, multiple occupancy rooms (doubles, triples) to be occupied by more than one student.
  • Where the layout of the building permits, designate communal bathrooms on a residential hall floor for use by specific rooms or individuals to limit cross contamination and assist with traffic control.
  • Expected use of most of the larger residence hall lounges as classrooms.

Upperclass Housing Assignments

Due to students’ academic plans and the need to reserve on-campus quarantine space throughout the year, our Residence Life team reworked many upperclass housing assignments. Please note this does not apply to first-year housing.

  • All Senior Townhouses remain as planned. If your townhouse has a vacancy due to a member choosing not to return in the fall or spring, please identify another senior you would like to fill that open space. 
  • Most Theme Cottages, Theme Floors, Lifestyle Floors, and Greek houses remain as planned. Some communities reduced their size due to bathroom ratio limitations; Residence Life contacted any groups that encountered this issue and they worked directly with Stacie Olney-Lapierre on roster adjustments. Students displaced from these communities due to new occupancy limitations participated in the new room draw process (se below).
  • Suites in which a majority of occupants returned for the fall semester remained intact. If the majority of students originally assigned to a suite did not return to campus for the fall semester, we reassigned the suite and any returning students participated in the new room draw process (see below).
  • Special Needs Housing assignments remained with the exception of students originally assigned to the South Wing of Kirk Douglas Hall. Students in these cases were reassigned to a similar housing accommodation in the North Wing of Kirk Douglas Hall. Residence Life contacted any students who were impacted by this move with more specific information. 

Family Unit Designation

Roommates, suitemates, or townhouse mates are considered a family unit. 

Extended Family Unit

Residential Life identified groups of students living adjacent to one another to serve as an extended family unit. In upperclass residences, this includes a theme cottage, Greek house, or students who live on the same floor and share a bathroom in a corridor-style residence hall. In First-Year residences, FYP Orientation groups for new students constitute their extended family unit. Members of the same extended family unit may enter each other’s rooms without masks, but the occupancy may not exceed double the room occupancy. 

During the first four weeks of the semester (update September 28, 2020, for the Fall semester guidance, please see below), students are not permitted to enter different buildings in which they do not reside. After four weeks, the University will assess the public health status of the campus and compliance with this policy. Permission may be granted at that time to permit students to access different residences and enter student rooms not within their extended family unit with face coverings. The occupancy may not exceed double the room occupancy.

When traveling locally within St. Lawrence County, students are encouraged to use caution, continue to be mindful of the intention of the family unit and extended family unit guidelines, and keep track of who they interact with when not on campus. Even though residence hall visitation and dining services are restricted to only individuals within your family unit and extended family unit, there are many different ways students can continue to interact, with masks on, in small gatherings with friends and peers. Students should consider these options as potential ways to interact with other community members outside of their family unit and extended family unit (while still wearing face coverings):

  • Meeting in the student center to talk in small groups
  • Attending a student organization or theme cottage open house in the Winston Room or Eben Holden
  • Playing a lawn game on the quad 
  • Taking a walk on one of the campus trails
  • Sitting on the rocks on the Student Center Side lawn and catching up
  • Browsing the bookstore

Gatherings of no more than 10 people are permitted in shared indoor spaces such as common rooms as long as they don’t exceed the designated capacity. There are no common area kitchen access, with the exception of I-House kitchen, and all stoves in suites are disabled.

September 28, 2020 Update:

The Student Life Team has consulted with Director of Health Services Erin Casey and the and believe it is prudent to take a phased approach to reopening cross-residence visitation on campus.  Final approval of each phase will be subject to the public health status of campus as well as student compliance with the Laurentian Pact leading up to and during each Phase.

Phase 2: This phase is scheduled to start on Monday, September 28, and will permit student visitation within their own residential buildings. For Phase 2:

Phase 2 allows for visitation rights within a student’s assigned building, but does not change the guidelines related to face covering requirements. Students who are not in the same extended family unit still may not eat together or spend any time around individuals not in their extended family unit without face coverings.  Phase 2 simply allows students greater flexibility to visit other students with face coverings within their assigned residence hall or residential area.

Gatherings of more than 10 students are still not permitted in any residential space unless there is a pre-approved safety plan in place. Submit proposals here. https://stlawu.presence.io/form/campus-event-request-form-for-safety-plans

Notes on how special residence areas are impacted:

  • Sykes, Dean Eaton, Hulett, Jencks: may visit freely within your assigned building, including outside of your extended family unit but still adhering to face covering guidelines.
  • Townhouses – may visit other townhouses while wearing face coverings. Students must follow all guidelines outlined above.
  • Small Residence Halls, Theme Cottages & Greek Houses – will remain without cross-residence visitation until when we begin Phase 3. We are expanding visitation between select Theme Cottages and Greek Houses to allow these small residences to have more opportunities to socialize with other upperclass students. Residents may now visit the other noted building(s) within the respective clusters noted below. We encourage residents of Theme Cottages and Greek houses to continue finding creative outdoor activities to allow outdoor socialization with students from other residence areas and submit safety plans here for those events: https://stlawu.presence.io/form/campus-event-request-form-for-safety-plans
    • Small Residences: 62 Park (2nd & 3rd floor), 48 Park (1st floor), Kirk Douglas
    • University, College, Romoda: Arts Annex, LIGHT House, Java, The Dub, & The Artist Guild
    • Park (North of Lincoln St.): POWER House (48 Park 2nd & 3rd floor), The Lounge, BSU, La Casa, & The Outing Club
    • Park (South of Licoln St.): The Hub, CASL (62 Park 1st floor), Greenhouse, Campus Kitchens, Commons College, Habitat
    • Greek Houses: All Greek houses
  • First-Year Residence Halls: We are expanding visitation between select first-year halls to allow the Class of 2024 to socialize and get to know members of other FYPs beyond their own. Residents of the following buildings may now visit the other noted building in their first-year residence pairing:
  • Priest - Lee
  • Reiff - Rebert
  • Gaines – Whitman

We will evaluate the safety and compliance of the Laurentian Pact during Phase 2 and determine in the next few weeks if we are able to move into Phase 3 with increased cross-residence visitation beyond what is allowed in Phase 2. 

The University reserves the right at any time for any reason to review Phase 2 and Phase 3 visitation and possibly revert back to Phase 1. Remaining in a Phase 2 status and continuing to a Phase 3 in the future relies on our campus staying in a Green Status based on the COVID-19 Alert Status but also relies on student adherence to the Laurentian Pact and other local public health considerations.

Community Assistants

Our Community Assistants are essential members of our Residence Life team. The meaningful connections they make with our students help them find a home on campus. They make the success of our living/learning community possible. 

Programmatically, the Community Assistant (CA) program was revamped so CAs can build community while still adhering to social distancing and public health guidelines. This impacts the structure of CA training, as well as how CAs approach their work with students in the residence halls. International CAs who cannot return in time for fall semester might be able to shift their employment to spring-summer. The addition of a third academic term (summer 2021) will result in a need to hire more CAs over the course of the upcoming 2020-21 academic year.


We approached our solution to dining on campus with several factors in mind—spaces (cooking, serving, and dining), staffing, the academic class schedule, and nutrition. The capacity for dining is affected by the six-feet distancing requirements, the need to serve varied options for health needs, and the need to make most food grab and go.

On-campus dining is open to students and employees. Students are only permitted to eat with their face coverings removed with other students in their extended family unit. Dana Dining Center, our central dining venue, has been redesigned for primarily take-out service (all buffet lines have been eliminated and an attendant serves all hot items). Northstar Cafe, and satellite locations Time Out Café and Johnson Grab and Go continue offering take-out service. The Faculty-Staff Dining Room is now used as a take-out distribution location. Auxiliary spaces, such as Sykes Commons Room, are also in use. Refinement and adjustments to menus continue to ease service and provide nutritious and varied meals to the greatest extent possible.

Employees are asked not to occupy seating areas between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to provide priority service to residential students. We encourage employees to provide their own food, beverages, and snacks until further notice. 

An online ordering system was implemented this summer for Northstar Café and all satellite operations. Dining Services will adhere to all state guidelines by removing furniture and restricting access to furniture.

  • Signage and stanchions are in place and all NYS issued seating guidelines are being followed.
  • Gatherings in dining areas is limited to 50 by restricting seating to particular areas, offering all meals in take-out containers.
  • We now offer additional dining locations, such as the Sykes Formal Lounge
  • Six-foot distance markers are in place around dining food stations.
  • Grab and Go coolers are stocked at a minimum and filled more frequently, as needed.
  • Plexiglas barriers are installed to protect cashiers.
  • Self-swipe credit card readers and self-swipe meal card readers are installed for contactless purchases.

Safety and Sanitization Procedures

As part of their orientation, all staff are trained in proper protocol and have been issued appropriate PPE. Staff are offered weekly surveillance tests and the University continues to adhere to state guidelines for any mandatory testing.

  • Additional and enhanced sneeze guards are installed to better protect food items.
  • Staff is stationed in dining areas and clean and sanitize tables and chairs after each use.
  • The dining hall is closed between meal periods to allow for a thorough cleaning.
  • Prepackaged utensils replaced utensils in open bins. 

In accordance with NYS Department of Health regulations, work surfaces are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. A manager and/or supervisor is always scheduled to be on site to ensure all procedures are being followed. Restrooms are cleaned prior to the start of a meal period, during the meal period, and at the conclusion of the meal period. Signage is posted on exterior doors and all vendors are made aware of the social distancing policy.

Residence Life will notify Dining Services when a student is in isolation or in quarantine. Dining will prepare meals, and a member of our Safety and Security team will deliver them.

Campus Eateries, Satellite Locations and Extra Dining Space

Dana Dining Hall

Hours of Operation Beginning Saturday, January 16th

Monday – Friday:

  • 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Breakfast
  • 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Dinner

Saturday & Sunday:

  • 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
  • 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Brunch
  • 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Dinner

*Dana will close between those hours for deep cleaning and sanitation

Northstar Café

Hours of Operation Beginning Saturday, January 16th

Northstar Café:

  • Monday – Friday: 7:45 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:45 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Sun Coffee Roasters Café & Jack’s Corner Store

  • Monday – Friday: 7:45 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:45 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Hours of Operation Beginning Wednesday, August 26th

Monday - Friday:

  • 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Time Out Cafe

Hours of Operation Beginning Wednesday, January 20th

Monday - Friday:

  • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Johnson Grab & Go

Hours of Operation Beginning Wednesday, January 20th

Monday - Friday:

  • 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Spartacus Café

Temporarily Closed

  • Spartacus Café will be used to provide quarantined students meals in KDH and not open to the campus until further notice


There will be no catering on campus until further notice

Please use this link https://www.stlawu.edu/dining to see menus, hours of operation and other important information regarding Dining Services.