No Maverick Left Behind

Instead of gearing up for classes, the approximately 2,600 Mavericks residing on campus this spring needed to decide where to hunker down for the final eight weeks of classes.  

 Most students returned home. But some Mavericks – primarily international students – had few, if any, housing alternatives. 

Alim Nigmatjonov faced an agonizing decision. The marketing and international business major spent the school year living in Stadium Heights Residence Community as a CA. He also worked a part-time job on campus. Nigmatjonov is a native of Uzbekistan, and only the second student from the Central Asian country to attend Minnesota State Mankato. Initially, he contemplated returning home to his parents and younger brother.  

“As soon as this happened, I had mixed feelings. Should I go back home or wait?” he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”  

Alim Nigmatjonov is a residence hall CA from Uzbekistan.

He learned the Uzbekistan government mandates anyone flying from the U.S. must self-quarantine upon arrival for two weeks at a remote location. Not a good option, he said. 

Nigmatjonov reconsidered. He stayed in Mankato. Hundreds of other students, particularly international students without family or alternative housing in the area, grappled with similar dilemmas. For first-year residents, it signaled an abrupt end to the 2019-’20 on-campus living experience. 

“We made sure students knew, if they needed to come back, we’ll do everything we can to work with them,” said  Nicole Faust, the University’s Residential Life assistant director for planning, marketing and administration.. “We’re still providing services to students and the students have been understanding, but, of course, it’s tough for them.”  

The University created an online form for students to complete if they were staying on campus. The University approved all student-housing requests. Nigmatjonov said filling out the form was a simple, quick process. His CA position – one of nearly 70 the University supports – earned him free housing at Stadium Heights; Nigmatjonov said he’s grateful the University allows him to live rent-free at Preska Hall even though he currently isn’t supervising students.  

“I definitely feel supported here,” Nigmatjonov said. “I really feel like I was taken care of by Res Life because they are providing us housing and meals. It’s a very safe place here.”  

In early April, the University consolidated most of the remaining students to Preska Residence Community to create an environment more conducive to social distancing.  

“It’s hard for everyone right now,” Faust said, “because there aren’t a lot of people around and the students aren’t having a lot of one-on-one interactions.”  

Nigmatjonov spends the bulk of his weekdays studying and logging onto his computer for classes. For leisure, he plays games on his phone, watches movies and connects with friends. He speaks with his family often.   

“They call me too much because they’re quarantined, too,” he said with a laugh. 

Throughout the duration of the pandemic, Faust said the University will continue supporting students such as Nigmatjonov. The road ahead is unclear, she said, but no Maverick will be left behind.  

“Everyone’s trying their best to stay connected with students,” Faust said. “Everyone wants to do more. We just make the best of the situation – that’s all we can do.”