Dorms Adapt to Covid-19 Policy
Abby Epstein – News Editor
Plexiglas, less people, and more cleaning are what can be found throughout the residence halls this semester.
“We have done a lot [of changes], both through policy and physical changes in the residential halls,” said Director of Residence Life Robert DeMezzo. “We have reduced the number of people who can live on campus by about 500 people.”
Many changes are noticeable with Plexiglas in front of the RA desks, signs signaling where to stand in the elevators and blocked off furniture. While others happen more behind the scenes such as extra cleaning in the communal bathrooms.
“We have increased bathroom cleaning to morning and afternoon and have added electrostatic disinfecting cleaner, which is a mechanical device that does disinfectant in the bathrooms,” said DeMezzo.
Residence Life was asked to save between five and 10 percent of rooms for quarantining, which the townhouses are being used for.
“The townhouses were identified for quarantine space because of their external entrances and limited interaction with the community. The townhouses were identified early in the summer and were not offered during room selection,” said residence life coordinator and hall director of North Campus Midrise Nora Anderson.
Students have noticed the changes made throughout dorms and some have said it has made meeting new people harder with less activities happening within the halls.
“That is definitely one of our biggest challenges on how to get students connected and engaged, how to get students to meet each other definitely our new students, who are new to living in our community,” said DeMezzo.
Residence Life has come up with a mixture of virtual and in-person programs. Students have been able to meet people through attending some of these events.
“Residence Life has already scheduled about 100 events, which is a lot. We have 100 events on the calendar, and we’ll double that before the end of the semester,” said DeMezzo.
RA’s are also trying to find ways to connect the residents on their floor with each other.
“My RA has created a group chat for our whole floor and so that’s a fun way to meet new people I didn’t even know were on my floor,” said health science major Julia Braun, a freshman. “She is also always trying to find ways for all of us to meet together in the safest ways possible.”
Many RAs are creating virtual meetings for educational purposes or for residents to meet other residents. Residence halls that are equipped with common areas can allow people to congregate at a safe distance.
“Our RA’s encourage it, we can go into the common rooms and socially distance and still have conversations with people,” said biochemistry major Christina Donaldson, a freshman.
At the end of the semester, all students living in the residential halls are required to move out of the halls and take all their belongings with them.
“It’s for cleaning and precautionary, because if there is a reason student couldn’t return, we don’t want students belongings left here,” said DeMezzo, “but it’s also so we can do deeper cleaning of the residence halls. We will clean every space and disinfect everywhere, and we can’t do that with belongings in there.”
Photo credit: Essence Boyd