By Kait Bedell & Zachary Kraft – News Editor and 1851 Contributor
On Thursday, March 25, the COVID-19 Task Force moved forward with the principle of a proposal sent forward by several Resident Assistants (RAs) in an attempt to lift some of the residential hall restrictions.
The proposal will next face the senior management team on Tuesday, March 30 and would allow students to be in each other’s rooms under a limited pod system. According to Director of the COVID-19 Task force and Dean of Student Affairs David Hennessey, this is the proposal’s final stage before its approval.
The rule would allow each student to choose two students who they would want to be allowed in their room. Due to contact tracing, the students selected must be mutual by both parties. Each roommate within a room is allotted their two students of choice, however, there can never be more than two people in addition to those living in the room to be present at any time.
Hennessey is hopeful to see this proposal go through.
“The idea of never having a friend in your room is just antithetical to what we do,” Hennessey said. “There’s something very special about campus environments and when you get down to it, that level of personal interaction has just been missing.”
Hennessey said the task force has been hoping to do this for a long time and that they think now is the safest time to open residential halls up a little more.
In addition to the cooperation of students with testing and following guidelines, Hennessey said the RAs are largely why this proposal is even a possibility.
“The RAs have really been the unsung heroes in all of this,” Hennessey said. “At the same time that this has been really difficult for all of them, they’re the ones that really came up with something. Their involvement is really a key in this.”
Junior Jyaito Freeman, an RA in North Hall, is one of many students who has had to face both sides of the COVID-19 spectrum on campus: being an enforcer of the rules while also having to abide by them as a student. Freeman said, “making sure people follow the guidelines and not being able to see other RAs and people as often has been difficult.”
Freeman said due to the added pressure of enforcing these rules, she felt there was more pressure to patrol the students’ activities to ensure guidelines are being followed.
As the RAs have had to struggle with enforcing COVID regulations, many of them are hoping to see some of these rules change.
“There are still ways that we can be social, and it’s good that we’re trying hard to keep everyone safe, but I could only imagine what it would be like for someone in a single who doesn’t have anyone,” Freeman said.
Sophomore Spencer Fulone, an RA in Woodland Hall, is also hoping to see this proposal go into effect soon.
“I think we kind of expressed it early on to Dean Hennessey, after the first semester you could definitely tell nobody was as excited to come back,” Fulone said. “The energy was down on campus and nobody was really excited to repeat the same semester, so I think Dean Hennessey and the rest of the task force really took our word and our passion into consideration.”
Fulone said the task force was really open to listening to the students’ perspective and he is optimistic about this proposal’s approval.
“I hope the students keep in mind that things will get better,” Fulone said. “ I know this proposal has been going on for a while… a lot of people would’ve wanted it to be done and over with by now and have campus go back to the way it was, but big decisions like this definitely take time and they don’t happen overnight.”