Freshmen living in residence halls say that COVID restrictions, while socially constraining, have not ruined the dorm experience.
There are three big rules to ensure safety: residents are allowed to have one other person from within their dorm hall under the condition that said person wears a mask and maintains a distance of six feet, residents may not have a person from another dorm hall in their dorm or building, and residents may not have someone from another school or off campus into their dorm or building with no overnight visitors.
“I really enjoy it, it’s a bit more strict than I was hoping for, but I still get that sense of independence compared to high school,” said Jacob Roth, a freshman and business administration major. Jacob has been able to meet his suitemates but has been struggling to meet new people outside of that. “There’s not really much going on on-campus, so it’s been really tough.”
Roth says that he’s thought about knocking on people’s doors just to meet some new people, but he is a little bit worried about how they’d respond to someone they don’t know at this time.
Some students have been a bit more inventive in the way that they are making friends this year. Peter Lermo, a freshman, and a Business Administration major, was able to make a meaningful connection with people through private Zoom calls for group assignments. He and some other students from a computer science course kicked off their friendship coding on a Zoom call, and he turned that into texting people to see if they wanted to go on a walk-through campus or go grab a bite to eat together. Lermo and his new friends have now made arrangements to live together in the coming year.
“I’ve been really fortunate this year in that I was able to make friends over Zoom, it’s sort of an unlikely scenario but I’ve been really lucky,” said Lermo.
Others haven’t been so lucky. Bailey McNabb, a freshman pursuing a major in biomedical sciences says that she has barely met anyone on her floor, and feels very restricted under the rules.
“I knew COVID was going to be different and change everything, but I was expecting to be talking to more people,” said McNabb. “It’s just so difficult to meet with people, especially if they live in another dorm.”
There was one complaint that was universal across all interviews, which was that they did not understand why they could not see people in other dorms. “If I can go and sit down with someone and eat with them for a half hour, why am I not allowed in their room?” asked Roth.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, I get that somebody from another school might come here and bring [COVID] with them if they’re asymptomatic, that rule makes sense but why can’t I hang out with someone that I can hang out with everywhere else except my room?” asked Lermo.
The rules under which the freshman class is operating under may be socially preventative and isolating if one is not an already outgoing person. According to ProHealth Care, social isolation can lead to mental health issues that may manifest themselves into physical symptoms. Students who find themselves struggling with their mental health are encouraged to reach out to the Talley Center or another mental health professional.