What’s UP with the return to campus?

Some basics to life at UP for a fall semester that is anything but normal

By Carlos Fuentes | August 23, 2021 7:31pm
A University of Portland "welcome" sign at the main entrance to the campus.
Media Credit: Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

Seventeen months after COVID-19 forced UP to move to virtual classes, campus life is returning in full force for the 2021 fall semester. 

But with the resurgence of the virus and the highly contagious Delta variant, The Bluff and Oregon are anything but normal. Masks cover the smiles of a full campus, more than a quarter of classes are virtual and plexiglass shields in every classroom. Moreover, Oregon has seen record high COVID-19 cases over the past week.

Here’s what you need to know about resuming campus operations:


Masks are required in every building, regardless of vaccination status. There are a handful of exceptions, such as being in a private office, dorm room or while eating and drinking, according to the Pilots Prevent website.

Masks are not required in any outside space, even in larger groups. UP’s website says that the school will revisit the mask policy by Sept. 17. 

UP has discontinued the surveillance testing that was required for individuals visiting or living on campus over the 2020-21 school year. However, COVID-19 tests are available at the Health and Counseling Center every weekday. There are also self-administered tests available for free at Campus Safety and in residence halls.

While UP’s website has posted a vaccination dashboard, it does not show the percentage of people vaccinated. Instead, it highlights the percentages of faculty, staff and students who have either proven they are vaccinated or requested an exemption. 703 out of 706 full-time staff and faculty have complied with the school’s vaccination guidelines, compared to 3,044 out of 3,611 students.

Food services

A group of students and family members sit outside the Pilot House eating lunch. The Pilot House will be fully open for dining this semester for the first time since last March.
by Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

The Pilot House and The Commons are fully open for in-person dining. Masks are required while walking or standing, but not when eating or drinking. Mack’s Market has also resumed normal operations.

The Commons has designated entrances and exits to maximize social distancing. There are also plastic shields and physical distancing markers in place.

Although school policy requires students to sit six feet apart when eating food, there is little enforcement of social distancing or mask-wearing, according to Kirk Mustain, general manager of Bon Appetit.

“We’re asking people to exercise personal responsibility,” Mustain said. “You know, I think that’s the best way to go because there's an indoor mask policy. We’re not going to be the social distancing police.”

Mustain said that although The Anchor is currently closed, Bon App is in the process of hiring employees for it and plans to open it later this semester. 

However, Franz Hall bagel shop is permanently closed, but new vending machines are in place.

Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center

Beauchamp is open for the school year with new hours. Masks are required at all times, according to Britt Rosenthal, recreation operations program manager.

“It would be great if we could spend most of our staff time cleaning and just being friendly rather than having to tell people to wear their masks,” Rosenthal said.

Similar to last year, the front desk remains cashless and workout machines are spaced apart. All workout classes are going to be in person, although class capacities will be lower than in previous years.

The gym has a capacity of 50, and remains closed to anyone who is not a UP student, staff or faculty member, according to the gym’s website.

Outdoor Pursuits is also back this year and will continue to offer trips, classes and rentals to the UP community.

“We’re just so excited to have everyone here,” Rosenthal said. “Wash your hands, wear your mask and come work out.”

Clark Library

The library is open for the fall semester, with slightly fewer hours than in years prior but more than the 2020-21 school year. 

All three floors of the library are available for studying, and study rooms are now reservable for more than one person.

According to Lucy Mackintosh, student supervisor at the library, the cleaning stations were removed over the summer and the main COVID-19 restrictions are the mask policy and the continued ban of food or drink consumption.

“That’s the main thing, we’re all transitioning out of ultra protection to ultra looseness,” Mackintosh said. “We are trying to encourage people to keep their areas clean, there are still signs up. It honestly isn’t as different from a normal year.”

Instead of staying open until 2 a.m. during the week as in previous years, the library will close at midnight. 

According to Mackintosh, several students have raised concerns about removing the cleaning stations and returning to “normal.”

“I think that as a staff member who worked before and after, it definitely is a little more off putting to have a lot more people in here, especially now that people are in the stacks and browsing,” Mackintosh said.

Residence Life

All 11 residence halls on campus are open for the school year, which are mostly operating at full capacity, according to Kaylee DeLoye, a Kenna Hall resident assistant.

A group of students greet each other outside of Villa Maria Hall during the freshman move-in event.
by Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

Masks are required in all common areas, including dorm rooms if the door is open.

“Students can remove their masks indoors only if they are actively eating or drinking and are able to maintain a six foot distance from others,” DeLoye said.

Inter-visitation between halls and guests is allowed during most hours in the day, although guests must comply with UP’s vaccination rules to stay overnight.

Hall events are also expected to look more like previous years this fall. DeLoye said that Kenna Hall is focusing on hosting more outdoor events this fall.

Carlos Fuentes is the copy editor of The Beacon. He can be reached at fuentes22@up.edu.

William Seekamp contributed to this story. He can be reached at seekamp22@up.edu.