Mahoney postpones graduation, moves classes online for Spring semester


Juan Carlos Lara

Raul Manzo kisses his girlfriend, Diana Rodriguez Calderon, goodbye before moving out while his parents and brother wait nearby. (Juan Carlos Lara / Golden Gate Xpress)

Juan Carlos Lara

SF State will be moving classes online for the remainder of the Spring semester and the commencement ceremony will be postponed, according to an email from President Lynn Mahoney on Monday afternoon. 

Along with classes, all campus events through the month of May were canceled and the roughly 4,000 students living on campus were once again urged to leave. The news comes a day after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 among the SF State community. 

Just hours prior to Mahoney’s announcement, Mayor London Breed issued a three-week-long order for residents to shelter in place and limit travel or outdoor activities that are nonessential. 

Third-year student Raul Manzo was moving out of his Parkmerced home when he heard about the cancellation of classes. He decided to return to his family home in Oakley, California after he found out the city-wide order would impact the pizzeria where he works.

“No point in me staying if I can’t work,” Manzo said. 

Manzo said that his teachers have been doing a good job of transitioning classes to an online format, and he has taken a few online classes. However, some of his friends are freaking out about the abrupt changes. 

“Everything’s been decided today,” Manzo said. “Everybody’s just making decisions, seeing what’s best for them, and for everybody in my household, the best decision is to just go back home.”

Student Gabriel Juan was particularly concerned with the practicality of continuing his biology lab virtually. 

“My parents aren’t paying $26,000 for me to be taught on the computer,” Juan said. 

For campus residents, some of the biggest questions surround the future of their housing situations. In a repeat of last week, university administrators sent out messages to residents with language that stopped just short of a mandatory evacuation order. 

Director of Residential Life David Rourke and Executive Director of Housing Dining and Conference Services Jeny Patino sent an email to on-campus residents outlining who would be given housing priority going forward, including: international students, those with severe health or safety risks, those facing housing insecurity and remaining residential staff. 

“If you are not identified in one of the prioritized categories, we unfortunately need you to make plans to leave campus as soon as possible,” the email said. 

Instructions appear to be based on the honor system. When students contact residential life to report that they need to stay on campus, their circumstances are not verified or questioned further. 

Freshman Benjamin Gonzales admitted that he simply lied when contacting residential life. Gonzales claimed he had a job that required him to stay in the city, and he received a response saying he was allowed to remain. This story matches those of several students that spoke to Xpress.

“I don’t imagine they’re going to check it and it doesn’t seem like they mind too much,” Gonzales said.

In President Mahoney’s announcement, she stated that housing would remain open for those without options, but said students with alternatives “should” leave housing, rather than must. 

Students are now finding fliers in their mailboxes, saying, “Students must leave their on campus housing assignment.”

A flier from Residential life orders students to move out. (Emily Curiel / Golden Gate Xpress)

The flier instructs students to take as many of their belongings as possible without giving a deadline for completion and explains that they must wait until a future update to find out how to recover their remaining belongings.

Director Rourke confirmed that the flier came from Residential Life, but stated he was not available to answer questions. Jeny Patino also said she was unavailable to answer questions. 

Freshman Abraham Calleja expressed disappointment over having to leave campus so abruptly after what had been a great first few months of college. 

“I loved it, it was memorable,” Calleja said. “I had a lot of international friends and I knew they were going to leave but it came to an abrupt end.”

Calleja said that he spoke to Residential Life and expects to receive some type of refund for his housing costs. 

“For the most part, it seems like as long as I’m out I should get the money back for April,” Calleja said.