By Nina Gonzalez – Student Journalist
The Coronavirus first broke out in March sending all on-campus housing students home for the second half of the spring semester. This September a limited number of students were welcomed back to the dorm buildings, but with the virus yet to be diminished, the ‘college experience’ has been completely altered. When one thinks of the normal college experience they often picture a campus bustling with students, strangers living with each other becoming friends and making wild memories, eating meals at the dining hall, and study sessions in the library through the night. However, the most used word when talking to students currently living on campus about their new experience is “different.”
Dormers felt changes from the moment they arrived on campus. Move in day is usually a day where hundreds of people swarm campus. Bleeker Street is closed for limited time parking, lines of cones and security at each end of the road guide residents, families, and friends where to go. Residents can be found running eagerly to every building trying to find the next available red bin to wedge as much of their personal belongings in at once. Once in the building, crowds gather around the elevators waiting for an opportunity to board as two to three bins accompanied by two to three people each squish inside as people continually shovel in and out. However, this year was further than what any usual ‘move in’ day is like.
This year Rutgers designated a week prior to move in day, August 26 to August 31, to move in some of your personal belongings, but not officially move in. If you took advantage of the early drop off period, you were allowed only two guests to help move your stuff into your room. Unless you had a legitimate reason, no one one allowed to formally move in until September 1st. Unfortunately, if you had missed the early move in period, you were no longer able to have any guests help, and you would have to lug all of your belongings in yourself — heavy tvs, mirrors, bins, bags of food, etc.
Guests are no longer permitted to enter the buildings for the remainder of the fall semester. Thursday nights were often the busiest as college students would often go out and have fun because most people did not have Friday classes. A long line of people hankering to reach the security desk to be signed in by their friends from inside would surpass the door and begin to wrap around the side of Usquare on these nights. Elevators would be congested with people as they piled in just enough for the door to close. All twelve buttons would glow yellow as they were pressed, so if you happened to be going to the thirteenth floor you were in for a long ride. Streams of people flooded into the stairwells as they were too impatient to wait for the elevator. Halloween is one of the biggest holidays that dormers look forward to, it is a time where all of their friends come over and get dressed up to go out. Except, Halloween in college isn’t just one day, it’s the whole weekend. On Halloweekend, the halls are never empty, elevators are more packed than a Thursday night and you can hear the clamoring of people running up and down the stairs if your room happens to be close enough to the stairwell. However, this year for Halloween, the campus has already been transformed into a ghost town.
Living on campus isn’t as easy as just paying thousands of dollars anymore, saliva swabs are given weekly on Mondays to test for Coronavirus. All residents must take the saliva test and drop it off in front of the dining hall, Stonsby. Masks are required when entering and walking around the building and campus.
“Wearing masks and doing tests often is still a little weird, but it’s becoming the new normal because of the pandemic,” noted Liana Yanchuck, junior RU-N housing resident.
The coronavirus has left the students more careful and aware of their surroundings. However, they are still grateful for the experience. “I still appreciate dorming though, now it is one in a room it’s as if everyone has their own place.” said Raquel Wadee, third year on campus resident.
If you are dorming, you better hope that your friends are in the same building, because students can not enter any other dorm building except the one they currently reside in. Luckily for resident of Usquare, Shakiba Namjou, she is living in the same building as many of her friends. “The atmosphere is a lot different, but in the same token, dorming in the pandemic has gotten me closer to my friends and has helped me create memories that will last forever,” she said, keeping a positive attitude about the new experience.
Regardless of the virus reshaping the whole concept of living on campus, there is still a lot for one to look forward to. No roommates allows complete privacy, which also brings the luxury of being able to put the two twin size beds together found in a room to form one regular sized one. Being the only person in the entire suite also means not worrying about hearing the shower start right as you were getting out of bed to go use the bathroom. You won’t have to wait for kitchen space to free up in order to make dinner anymore either, and you will not have to worry about anyone else’s dishes in the sink except for your own. This also creates less distractions for people who prefer peace and quiet, and for those who often find themselves going out at times that maybe they should be staying in.
As for the friends living within the same building, this creates an opportunity for you to get to know each other more personally. This also gives one the space to know themselves even better and to really indulge in their studies and hobbies. Doing anything in the pandemic is going to take some time to adjust to, dorming on campus is just another hurdle these students have to face in the new world as we know it.