Living On Campus Amidst a Pandemic


Living on campus can be one of the best experiences of going away to college. For many young college students, it’s their first time away from home, it’s their first time living alone, and it’s their first time to prove that they can be independent adults.

Unfortunately, for the people who lived on any college campus in March, it was not that great of an experience, as they were forced to pack everything up and leave.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the residential students who were supposed to return in the Fall of 2020, had no idea if they would even be attending in person classes, let alone live on campus.

Luckily, Mercy College put a plan into place and was able to reopen campuses in September. Albeit with major precautions, as well as guidelines in place in order to assure that students would not be forced to go home once again.

With all the health and safety precautions and social distancing rules, there were bound to be changes to the everyday life of a residential student.

Jae Martinez is a sophomore at Mercy and currently lives in Founders Hall. She has seen exactly what a post-COVID campus looks like and knows just how different it is now compared to what it once was.

“There’s a lot less students on campus,” said Martinez.

One thing that has made it a lot harder on many students this semester is the ability to socialize and interact with classmates in person.

“It’s definitely much more difficult to be social with people on campus,” said Martinez. “Students are 100 percent more isolated than last semester.”

Martinez believes that the lack of interaction with fellow classmates could cause some mental health issues.

“Mental health wise it takes a toll. You either go outside, or you don’t hangout,” said Martinez.

Other than lack of socializing due to social distancing there are other locations on campus where lack of social distancing could cause some residential students to steer clear, such as the Hudson View Café.

“I really don’t think they can do much for rush hour in the café. They have stickers on the floor, and they’ve set up ropes, but I try to stay away when it’s busy,” said Martinez.

Martinez also has other issues when it comes to how she must get around campus with all the new safety measures that Mercy has put in place.

“I live in Founders Hall, so I normally walk through Hudson, or the Tunnel, to get to Main Hall… If there’s constant cleaning why can’t we just cut through,” said Martinez.

As everyone attempts to take every precaution necessary to stay safe and healthy, things on campus can change in the blink of an eye because some people just do not understand what’s at stake.

“There are a few individuals who walk around without a mask.  It’s up to the staff to stop them,” said Martinez.

With all the new rules in place to help ensure the health and safety of residential students, the job of resident advisors has become much more difficult this semester.

Jill Simmons is a senior RA in Founders Hall. She has already had to enforce the new rules on a few occasions.

“You can’t have more than three people in a room, and I already had to tell a group of four girls that one of them had to leave the room they were in,” said Simmons.

If students are caught breaking the rules they will be documented, and they may also be disciplined by Mercy Residential Life.

Not only do RAs have to enforce the new rules, they are still in charge of setting up events for students that allow them to socialize and get to know one another. Which, in a social distancing world, can be exceedingly difficult.

“We’ve had a few in person events that were held outside, as well as on Zoom. We are trying to do more zoom events, and some interactive ones as well,” said Simmons.

With all the rules and guidelines in place many students are obviously upset. But Simmons believes the rules, although strict, will help lead to a much better spring semester.

“Honestly, I would rather be strict this semester so that we can have a better spring,” said Simmons.

With all the craziness in today’s world, Mercy’s residential students are in for an exceptionally long and trying semester. There are hopes that this will be the first and only one of its kind.