Suppose you opened the dorms and nobody came. Well, almost nobody. This is move-in weekend at Northwestern University’s residence halls.

But with first and second year students banned from the dorms to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the only ones moving in are freshmen and sophomores with approved exceptions from the University, and the handful of third- and fourth-year students who live in the residence halls anyway.

One of those with an exception is 18-year-old Stephanie Vicarte, of Hagerstown, Maryland. Vicarte says she was “so devastated” when the residence halls were closed to first- and second-year students, who will have to take all of their classes remotely.

Even though Northwestern has asked freshmen and sophomores to stay out of Evanston altogether and take remote courses from their hometowns, Vicarte says that was not an option for her for personal reasons. “I knew I had to get an exception,” she says.

First- and second-year students used to be required to live in the dorms, but COVID-19 changed that. NU has about 2,000 freshmen. A residence hall staff member helping at the move-in said there will only be about 100 in the dormitories this quarter.

Most juniors and seniors live off campus, but some do live in the residence halls. Workers on hand to help students with their luggage told Evanston Now that as of noon on Saturday, only five juniors and seniors had moved in to the dorm where those workers were assisting.

Classes start Wednesday. Even though her classes will be taken remotely, Stephanie Vicarte is thrilled to be taking those classes from her room in a dorm.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be an exception student,” she says.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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