Saint Martin’s students and COVID-19 regulations: How the community is coping
Emmanuel Son, Staff Writer
With 34 million positive cases and over 1 million deaths worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected life for almost everybody. The COVID-19 pandemic has put many restrictions onto the daily lives of most people around the world. Saint Martin’s University has been following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines amidst the current pandemic. Some of these restrictions have included limited attendance at events and buildings, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, online classes, and commuters being prohibited from all residence halls. However, many students have said that these restrictions have had a huge effect on student life on campus this semester.
Noah Simons, who is a resident of Spangler Hall, says that the restrictions have had an effect on how he and other students have been living on campus. He describes the residence halls as a lot quieter and that the campus feels dead to a lot of people. Even when finding friends or making friends, the campus has had a quiet and slow vibe to it.
On the restrictions, Simons states, “I think the restrictions are reasonable considering how close the proximity is of college students typically on campus and how easily the virus can spread…they are pretty fair restrictions.”
But Simons has also stated that it has not been easy to live with these restrictions in place. “I see [the restrictions] as fair but also very difficult and stressful on the students. It really makes students feel socially limited,” said Simons.
When asked if anything can be improved about the restrictions put in place, he says that the school does try their best to remember that this is a very emotional and difficult time for the students, but that the prohibition of commuter students into the residence halls should be lifted.
“Personally, I think commuters and off-campus guests should be allowed into the residence halls, as long as they follow the same guidelines since anybody can still go onto anywhere else on campus otherwise,” said Simons. Simons says that the school can always do more, but that he sees the effort the school has in place to keep the mental and emotional health of students in check during this hard time.
Ace Adolfo, who is a Resident Assistant (RA) for Baran Hall, says he feels confident about the COVID-19 restrictions in place. He states that the RA’s have gone through training of what to enforce and what not to enforce when it comes to restrictions. Rules that RA’s are told to enforce are the mask and social distancing requirements. However, these rules can be difficult on some RA’s. If residents are within close proximity with each other, masks will not be required as long as they are roommates.
Another rule that Adolfo has praised is commuter students not being permitted into the residence halls. With these rules, Adolfo states that he feels confident of campus safety, given that there was only one positive case of COVID-19, which happened to be a commuter student, this far into the semester. Adolfo has nothing against the COVID-19 guidelines and would not change much about them. He does mention that the rules have made dorm life very different and more isolated.
“If COVID-19 did not happen, all the commuters would be allowed to come into the residence halls, and everybody would be in each other’s rooms being part of the community. I feel like the commuters were an important part of our community. I had friends who were commuters whom I saw everyday last year but now I don’t,” said Adolfo.
Many of the restrictions have also had their effect on commuters. When asked about how being a commuter student has gone with the COVID-19 restrictions, two anonymous students say that the restrictions are important but have made life on campus difficult due to it feeling lonely and sad.
“I feel like the only thing I can do is just go home now since I don’t feel like I can be anywhere on campus other than the rec,” said one commuter student. Another commuter student said that it is already hard enough to be a commuter and be a part of the school’s community without rules, such as the limited capacity at events, that make involvement more difficult.
Despite restrictions put into place, campus life is committed to safely holding events. “I have been amazed at the creativity and innovation that students have practiced in thinking through an event planning in the midst of COVID. Despite the restrictions it would be easy for us to say we could not do much of anything, but I think we’ve decided to persist and pursue really creative avenues,” said Alexis Nelson, Director of Campus Life.
Some traditional events that will not be able to take place this semester include Community Halloween and Saint Martin’s signature Winter Ball. But smaller events will continue to be held. Nelson explains events such as High Stakes Bingo the first week of school, despite three separate rotations, still had a positive impact and brought the community together. Other in-person events that were successful from a Campus Life perspective were Crafts and Conversations and movie nights. Despite the limited capacity and enforced social distancing, the events still went really well and over 100 students participated in the total events.
Nelson goes on to explain that the overall result of students being asked to wear masks and social distance at events have been positive. Students have mostly continued to be enthusiastic at most of the events, despite regulations. Following guidelines, Campus Life will continue to take in protocols such as taking room reservation limits and continuing the enforcement of masking and social distancing at events. Campus Life is also aiming to hold virtual events for the student body that will not be on campus at all this semester so that they can stay engaged in the community.