Adjusting to the new normal on campus

By Abi Brown & Samantha Vega-TorresArts Editor & 1851 Contributor

Students gather in Valentine Dining Hall without COVID restrictions. Photo by Samantha Vega-Torres

As the community returns to campus, some elements look similar to life pre-pandemic, while other areas are still being impacted by COVID-19 policies and regulations.

Residential Life has shifted to fit the new normal. Residents have had to adjust to new guidelines, limiting the amount of guests in their room. The Director of Residential Life, Scott Lamphere said, “You used to be able to have eight people in your room, or 20 in a suite. We’ve reduced those numbers so…if there was a spread of some sort, we could kind of contain it if we found out and not having a big group where something like that could spread,” said Lamphere. Isolation housing is still available on campus in case of a breakout, but hasn’t been used due to the low number of positive cases, and students abiding by the COVID-19 policies.

The office itself is also facing a worker shortage as they are in the process of filling another area coordinator position. Residential Life currently has 38 resident assistants, a manager of housing operations, and three area coordinators, according to Area Coordinator Amanda Smolenski. However, in years past there have been up to 50 resident assistants and between four and five area coordinators.

“When you talk about ‘new normal’–it kind of feels like we’re in a new normal now, because a lot of those restrictions aren’t in place. So living on campus, I hope, feels a lot more normal than it did before,” Lamphere said.

Dining services have also adjusted to fit the university’s new operations. According to emails sent out by Diane Parker, the dining hall is back to self-serve stations, offering green togo containers, and providing regular dishware and silverware. They are also providing a contactless meal swipe process when you enter Valentine dining hall or purchase from the late night menu at the 1851 grill.

The 1851 grill has also shifted. Orders are still placed on the Boost Mobile app where students can add their campus cards to their wallet. Patrons are notified through the app when their order is ready. It is also used at the Starbucks in the Science and Technology Center.

The Intercultural Center and Commuter Cottage (IC3) is operating like ‘normal’ again, after COVID-19 put restrictions on how students could interact with the cottage. Alum Alanis Perez-Rivera (‘21), who is overseeing Commuter Life, was proud to announce “[the IC3] is back to holding in person events and staff meetings and it has given us a new energy.” It is also important to note although they can meet in person again, they are still “enforcing masks for groups indoors larger than 10, as well as making sure that everyone is asking the people around them what their comfortability is at all times,” Perez-Rivera said.

In addition to the IC3, many students have been opting to utilize the library as a study and hangout space.

Starting at the beginning of this school year, Brennan Library has brought back all of their pre-pandemic services and are open normal hours, according to Library Director Anna Sarneso. On top of this, Sarneso said, “Students no longer need to wear a mask while they are working in the library, and they can again eat and drink in the library. We are no longer socially distancing the seating, so students can again move the furniture, and more than three people can be in a study room.”

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