By: Ravyn Malvino
As we pass the one-year mark of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when Adelphi’s administration asked everyone to leave campus, including 1,097 students in dorms, residential life has resumed. But it looks very different from the past.
“Campus life during the pandemic means I am in my room more often than not,” said Adelphi sophomore Julia Smith. “Whether that be on Zoom or a movie night with my roommates, campus life feels safest in my residence hall.”
Guy Seneque, director of the Office of Residential Life and Housing, said, “I would be mistaken if I said campus life was not different for students now than in previous years. Covid has changed the way we live, breath, eat, work, study and interact with one another.”
Despite the Office of Residential Life and Housing’s efforts, some students still feel disconnected. “While the RAs and residential community are trying to make things better, there is still a disconnect between residents,” said sophomore Rebecca Luther. “Instead of feeling like a full community, people seem on edge and distance themselves.”
Even though this year is different, Luther is still glad she decided to move back to campus. “I still love living on campus with my roommates and having my freedom here at school,” she said.
Seneque noted that campus has been much quieter this semester since fewer students are living in residence halls on campus. Compared to the nearly 1,100 students living on campus last spring before lockdown, there are now only 598 students living in residence halls during the spring 2021 semester, and 686 lived on campus during fall 2020. Seneque said that even with fewer students residing on Adelphi’s campus, the RAs, RSA and Hall Councils have become experts at leading virtual programming events. “To date, they have collectively hosted 208 virtual programs with 1,780 students in attendance.”
Smith agreed that these Covid-friendly programs have enhanced her experience living on campus this year. “Many clubs and organizations like hall councils and Resident Student Association have made living on campus entertaining through programming and giveaways,” she said.
Adelphi sophomore Iyana Baskerville thinks the new University Center (UC) has had a positive impact on campus and is enhancing her experience as a resident. “The new UC has given a whole new feel to the campus,” said Baskerville. “It's a great place to study and has really good food, and I think it promotes social interaction in a Covid-safe way.”
Smith agreed. “The new UC has revitalized our campus. It has transformed my student experience and I look forward to utilizing the outside seating areas when it gets warmer outside.”
“I am so impressed with what Facilities Management has done with renovating the UC,” said Seneque. “Students and staff seem to love it. I hope students make great use of it. My hope is that when students are eating, they are doing it in a safe and socially distant manner.”
In efforts to keep students safe, especially after the recent update regarding the increased number of positive Covid cases on campus, Residential Life staff are increasing signage, reducing lounge capacities by blocking off lounge chairs, and reminding students to remain vigilant with mask wearing and to practice social distancing.
“RAs are also tasked with enforcing policy by making sure resident students are complying with mask-wearing, the residence hall guest policy and social distancing,” said Seneque. “The Residence Hall Directors (RHDs) have worked with Health Services and Dining Services to quarantine students who have been exposed to Covid all year.” RHDs have also delivered food to over 120 students in on-campus quarantine since the fall semester.
Meghan Snowdale, an Earle Hall resident assistant, described this semester as “different” and said that while it has been challenging due to new Covid-19 protocols, the Adelphi housing team has been managing to still cater to resident’s needs.
“Mental health has definitely been a challenge for students, especially first-year students and underclassmen,” said Snowdale. “Students have been coming to us asking how to make friends and get involved on campus while still following Covid guidelines. This has made us gear a lot of our programs towards meeting new people, making friends and building a community, even if it is on Zoom.”
While Adelphi is attempting to keep its community safe, some students think they can do better. “The safety protocols in place regarding Covid-19 seem adequate, but are not effective,” said Luther. “Our numbers have been much lower than other schools, but on a day-to-day basis, I see a lot of people not wearing masks and breaking guidelines. The protocols are working, but if they were more strictly enforced I would feel safer.”
While some policies can be more strictly enforced, other policies have helped students feel safe. “I like that, in addition to the protocols already in place, we are always ready to move a class from in-person to online, to close the school for a few days, or to send residents home whenever Covid presents a threat,” said Baskerville. “Even though these can be disappointing, it's important that the school always chooses to do what's best for everyone's safety.”
Seneque also encouraged the Adelphi community to keep their fellow students’ safety in mind. “Although spring is here and there are only two months left in the semester, we are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “At any moment things could get worse if we are not careful. We need everyone to work together to continue to wear masks and stay socially distant. It will take a village working together to make sure we are getting through safely together.”