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What Do Campus Changes Mean for Commuters?

By: Alexi Bhattacharji

After moving to remote learning for the second half of the spring semester, the fall 2020 semester is now a mixture of in-person and online classes---yet another new, unfamiliar experience for students. The semester looks to be challenging for every Adelphi student, but with about 6,900 undergraduate and graduate commuters and/or remote learners, what do all these changes mean for them?

Students who returned to campus are expected to follow various safety measures. A daily health check available on the AU2go app must be filled out 24 hours prior to arriving on campus. If someone is experiencing symptoms related to Covid-19, they will be asked to stay home. Masks are required and social distancing must be practiced at all times.

Sentwali Bakari, vice president of Student Affairs, stressed the importance of following these measures. “We’ll need students’ cooperation in being safe and responsible and creating a culture around health safety,” he said. “If we’re able to follow this guidance, it’s going to pay dividends in terms of being able to have students on campus.”

Students in Nexus social distancing and wearing

masks between classes. Photo credit @prezriordan

If a student has a mix of in-person and online classes on the same day, or they have a break between classes, they can find a space to sit and work. Anyone uncomfortable being on campus between classes can sit in their car without being ticketed for idling unless it becomes a safety issue. However, idling is not allowed in underground lots.

For others, Adelphi has ensured that there will be plenty of space for students. Buildings like Nexus and Swirbul Library will be open with specific seats being off-limits to adhere to social distancing, and collaboration studios will only allow one student per studio. Post Hall and the Panther Den are also options if Wi-Fi is needed.

Additionally, over 260 outdoor spaces have been added around campus, including two outdoor tents that are inclusive of power and Wi-Fi. Students must social distance and wear masks, but will be able to attend remote classes, work or simply relax. A list of these spaces will be made available, but it is not without its flaws. When asked about their opinion on these spaces, some students said they didn’t know these areas had been added.

Samantha Rooney, a sophomore commuter student, also expressed concern about these areas. “I think one major issue that could arise is noise control,” she said. “Some students may want to socialize with their friends, while others are trying to complete a Zoom course.”

While there are still concerns and questions unanswered, commuters still have a chance to have fun and get involved. Participating in clubs and activities is a large part of a commuter’s college experience, and the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) is working to assure students have plenty to look forward to. While in-person events can be held in socially distanced groups of 10 or less, many will be virtual.

CSI director Anna Zinko said, “Despite things looking a little different, we’ve got an exciting lineup of events for students to participate in starting with Welcome Weekend. We are also actively working with our student organizations to ensure they can continue to engage their members.”

One of these organizations is the Commuter Student Organization (CSO), who are planning a virtual commuter appreciation week among many other commuter events. Sloanne Somerstein, a junior sociology major and the public relations chair for CSO, said, they are having a CSO Pop Up on Wednesday, September 16 from 11 am to 3 pm.

“Commuters will be able to socially distance while meeting some of the E-Board members and have the opportunity to pick up a journal,” Somerstein said. “To help commuter students adjust, we are sending out CSO newsletters with commuter tips and an update on weekly upcoming events. We also plan to keep in touch with our commuters through social media.”

Their first meeting will be on Monday, September 14 at 1 pm via Zoom. CSO is a great organization for commuters to join to become more involved on campus.

Additionally, the Commuter Assistant program is a great resource for all commuter students. Commuter Assistant Jessica Bellomo, a senior mathematics major, said, “The Commuter Assistants (CAs) are trying our best to still host events throughout the semester that are fun and safe for students.”

This year the Commuter Assistant program has seen a decline in participation since their main advertisement tool was the in-person orientation, which did not happen this year. Yet, the CAs are still offering a lot of the same resources.

Bellomo said, “The biggest thing we had to change was moving our Commuter Assistant desk hours from the desk in Nexus to online Zoom hours. But we are still available for any help as if we were at the desk.”

Commuters face a daunting semester ahead of them, but Adelphi has implemented safety measures and accommodations that will allow them to complete all their work while still being able to have fun.

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