Updated: Oct 28, 2020
By: Hyacinth Taylor
When Adelphi University made the announcement in March that in-person classes were cancelled for the semester and that resident students had to move home, many scrambled to change their spring break plans and pack their dorms. But not everyone was able to leave. Though the campus is essentially closed, there are still some students living here, as is the case for most of the other colleges on Long Island. They are either international or out-of-state students who were unable to fly home due to travel restrictions or because in some cases they don’t have a home available to them.
Initially there were about 65 students on campus, but as of this writing, there are just under 50 as students have found ways to safely return home.
“Universities all over the country moved swiftly to ensure the safety of all members of their community, and Adelphi took special care to personalize students' transitions out of housing or into limited housing options,” Daniel Matishek, residence hall director of Eddy Hall, said. “For students whose home countries issued travel restrictions, or domestic students who were unable to travel home, accommodations were made to provide housing until students are able to safely leave campus.”
Of course, all of this has meant that staff have had to manage logistics. For instance, for those on campus, Mathishek said that with a few exceptions, approved resident students remain in the room they have occupied since the start of the academic year. But everyone’s situation has been different, he added.
“We are working with residents individually to identify what they need in order to be successful, and students' situations change every day. Some needed only a few days, others need a few weeks, and each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
While almost the entire Adelphi community remains off campus in quarantine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some students who remain due to travel restrictions and personal circumstances. Even so, you'd never know it when looking at these photos.
That doesn’t mean the students have been on campus alone. Mathishek said that limited staff have been reporting to the campus every day.
“Personnel from Residential Life and Housing, Health Services, Public Safety, Dining Services and IT, among others, are supporting students near and afar, in-person and online,” he said. “We're hosting programs on our social media platforms (and Zoom, of course), moving forward with plans for next year, and checking in with students to see how we can support them.”
In addition to the services listed above, many offices are now offering support and social activities in a virtual setting. The Student Counseling Center, for example, is taking appointments for teletherapy, and students and staff from the Center for Student Involvement are hosting frequent programs to keep students connected with their favorite clubs and organizations.
Through it all, supporting the students during a stressful time has been a paramount concern.
“We understood that pandemic created a number of hardships for our students,” said Sentwali Bakari, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “Thus, we wanted to express compassion and support our students remaining in the residence halls who have travel restrictions or extenuating circumstances.”
For the most part, students have adjusted to their circumstances. The Delphian spoke to a few of them about what residential life on campus has been like with this ongoing pandemic. Sidnei Daniel Samm, a first-year communications major and California resident; Pelumi Akinsanya, a first-year undecided major from Brooklyn; and Teddy Zixuan-Wang, a first-year finance major and international student from China, weighed in about a variety of topics.
Q: What is it like isolating yourself in your dorm with social distancing?
Sidnei Daniel Samm: We as a collective have been socially distancing in our own way because Adelphi itself is isolated, so we hangout, we see each other, but other than that I’m alone.
Pelumi Akinsanya: Isolating myself in my dorm has been peaceful. The vacancy of campus came with quietness, which then brought peace. I don’t naturally socialize or go out often so the routine of waking up and staying in my dorm feels habitual to me. I’m actually practicing social distancing, but I leave campus for work at a local grill and juice bar where I interact with my coworkers/customers. We wear masks/gloves and try to keep our distance from each other though.
Teddy Zixuan-Wang: During the quarantine, I was grateful that the dormitory still provided us with water, electricity and cleaning services, and that the university still had security to protect the students living in the dormitory. The number of students living in my dormitory is very small, maybe no more than 20. I don’t like to go out, and I like to play games in the dorm, so it was easy for me to stay in isolation. During the day, I do my homework online. In the evening, I listen to music, play games and use social media to chat with friends. If we want to order takeout, we have to go to the security office to get it. This makes me feel safe, and I support this approach because the social distance is very important.
Q: What changes have been made to dining?
Samm: It’s open at convenient times, 10:30 am to 6:30 pm with a break in between. It’s good enough to get by. I think the small batches are great for quality control and it tastes way better now than before.
Akinsanya: The biggest changes that were made to dining were hours of operation and dining locations. There’s brunch from 10:30 am - 1:30 pm then dinner from 5 pm - 6:30 pm and that’s it. The Eatery (Post hall) is the sole dining location open on campus. Thankfully, the Panther Mart is open from 10:30 am - 6:30 pm.
Wang: We were only allowed to take food with us when we went to the school canteen. Everyone takes turns to go in and order food, but we can’t do it ourselves. The staff will do it for us. The school staff wear gloves/masks and smile. Brunch and dinner are served each day, and there are still drinks, desserts, snacks, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, etc.
Q: What is it like taking online classes?
Samm: Online classes are a drag. Like most people I didn’t sign up for online classes when I went to college for a reason, so it’s hard, but it’s manageable. The pass/fail grading option is definitely a plus.
Akinsanya: Online classes are more difficult than I anticipated. As a student who’s accustomed to a classroom environment, it’s hard to engage through a computer screen. It’s like, yes, the world is battling a pandemic and our health, and the lives of loved ones are definitely at risk and it’s been suggested that we’re headed into an economic recession. But I have to now concentrate all my efforts into teaching myself [insert course here] for my online exam on Tuesday. It’s a lot.
Wang: Online classes are so interesting that I now even want to have online classes forever in the future. I meet professors on Zoom at appointed times. Sometimes answering questions in online classes can be nerve-racking because I need to turn on the camera and answer questions. Yet, missed classes can be watched on video, which I think is great.
Q: How do you communicate with people back at home about your well-being on campus? What are their concerns?
Samm: Everyone at home that I talk to are just waiting for me to come home. We are all in the same boat, so it’s hard for them too, but we get by with our antics, just continuing to behave as normal despite the circumstances.
Akinsanya: My family and I call each other to check in. Their concerns are mainly for my health.
Wang: I talk to my mother on the phone every day. My father listens to my mother and my mother is not worried about me at all because she thinks the school is very safe. In fact, the school is now much safer than any other area. Because there are only students and staff in the school, we can live without leaving the school, and the school has sufficient supplies.
Q: Do you think students will be able to come back in August?
Samm: I think by the latest Adelphi should open is September, and that regardless they should host commencement for the senior class. If I were to pay for four years of college I would want to walk across a stage.
Akinsanya: I can’t provide a direct response because I can’t predict how long this pandemic will last. However, I can hope that this will be all behind us by then and if so, then I would say: come back better and stronger.
Wang: I think students can go back to school in August in the US. As I know, schools in China are starting back after three months of online classes. So, I guess we can go back to Adelphi in August.
These students aren’t the only ones who hope that things will return to normal next semester. Bakari said, “We look forward to seeing all of our students return when it is deemed safe.”