By Jenna Hart
After a fall semester at home, many freshmen have moved into their dorms for the spring semester. As a part of the College’s Spring Flex plan, approximately 1,200 students will be residing on campus. The class of 2024 will be getting a taste of campus life beyond a screen.
Various factors came into play for freshmen who decided to live on campus, ranging from social life, financial responsibility, academic work quality and environmental preferences. For some freshmen like Maria Klementyev, an undeclared general major, coming to campus was an easy decision as she had already intended on dorming in the fall. But for others like Casey Lopez, a communications major, the decision was painstaking.
“I went back and forth for days, and even though I felt guilty for not choosing to stay home and save money, I realized one day that I couldn’t envision myself staying home for another semester — when the opportunity to leave home and try to experience some sort of college life was being given to me,” Lopez said. “For me, something is better than nothing.”
Others felt that going to campus was necessary for their wellbeing. The primary reason for coming to campus for Victoria Varnavas, an elementary education major, was to socialize.
“I don’t live close to any of my friends and found isolation detrimental to my mental health,” said Varnavas. “My closest friends [will] be living in the rooms next door to me rather than in the states next door to me.”
Students were scheduled to move in from Jan. 19 to Jan. 30, where they were given a three hour time slot to get everything settled with the help of one or two guests. Krista Kiwoir, a freshman accounting major, thought that moving in this way ended up making things easier.
“Having the time slots really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Kiwoir said. “The two people rule really didn’t make a difference.”
Residential life will look significantly different than past semesters. Housing capacity has been reduced, doubles have become singles and suites will hold two to four students instead of the normal five to six. Visitors will be limited and will have no permittance into residence halls or dorms, meaning students from different residence halls will not be able to enter halls other than their respective ones, according to the Spring Flex plan.
The plan also mandates mask wearing in all common areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Dining halls hold reduced capacity as well, with seats, tables, and line markers placed six feet apart. Students are also required to fill out a survey at the start of each day through the ROAR app which grants them a red or green health pass, and obtain weekly Covid testing.
A new dining hall practice in place is the use of silver and bronze coins in exchange for big or small containers of food. It has received some criticism as it is an additional step to getting food, instead of the original swipe-and-go method from pre-pandemic days.
“I feel safe and I’ve gotten to chat with new people which is nice… but tokens?” Varnavas questioned in regards to the new coinage policy. “As with everything, I feel safe and am happy- but daily life feels tedious.”
Lopez also felt that the dining hall policies were a bit tedious, but understands the necessary nature of extra precautions with food.
“I’m confident in their safety plan as long as people follow the rules,” said Lopez. “There are a lot of regulations in place, some that I think are even too strict, but I think the school had to do things this way to account for the kids that find their way around the rules.”
Students are still hoping they will be able to balance meeting other people with abiding by the Covid restrictions. Hailey Ruane, a freshman undeclared humanities and social sciences major, felt slightly reassured about the social acclimation with the College’s Welcome Weekend.
Lopez also holds optimism as well, saying she would rather meet people with masks and social distancing than not at all.
Despite a very different reality for the class of 2024’s moving in process, many are still excited about living on campus.
“I can’t wait to experience college life,” said Klemetyev. “Even if the pandemic is impacting it I still hope to have a fun college experience.”