Freshmen living in Walter Hall on campus are still facing strict COVID-19 protocols and having difficulty building interpersonal connections, despite the recent improvement of the Washington County health risk.
From the start of the winter and spring semesters, Walter residents have felt a downward shift in dorm life. Many feel that this semester is quieter than the fall semester, as they believe that disciplinary actions have been more strict, thus restricting residents from doing various activities, like hanging out with their friends.
“When it isn’t quiet, things often get exaggerated simply because it isn’t quiet like usual,” Selina Rojas, a Walter RA, said. “There are things going on that are taken care of when they need to be, but I think overall, it’s quiet and lonely, and very different than what it has been in the past.”
After the recent lift of COVID-19 risk in Washington County, residents are now allowed to socialize with another group living in a different room, but they cannot exceed 6 people, in addition to the other COVID protocols. While these restrictions limit the amount of contact between residents, both RA’s and students feel that they are reasonable rules to follow, given the severity of COVID-19.
“Obviously everyone wants to interact with other people, but at the point in time where we are at with COVID, the rules are put in place to protect us, and therefore there’s a way we can protect each other,” Esme Alvarez, another Walter RA, said.
In light of the new rules, an influx of residents have recently been getting caught breaking COVID-protocols. A large number of those who were caught were automatically placed into a two-week quarantine period as a disciplinary measure. Freshman Kendall Taomoto the authoritative actions were not handled well because they should have given a warning first or evaluated the situation better. CJ Coyler, a freshman who has recently gone through the quarantine protocol thinks they could have handled it better by not putting students in quarantine because they were all wearing masks and were only in the room for 2 minutes
“I agree with the rules we have, but I don’t agree with the consequences they use. It is more of a punishment not a cautious act,” freshman CJ Coyler said.
As seen in many cases across the nation, COVID-19 has restricted people from obtaining in-person interactions and creating new friendships. Taomoto feels that simply having fun or just seeing friends is hard because everyone is afraid of getting in trouble. She also is disappointed that she can’t become friends with or meet half of the other freshman in the other dorms.
“COVID protocols are making it hard to see my own friends. How can you have fun with the constant fear of getting caught or being too loud for laughing?” Taomoto said.
Along with a majority of other freshman and college students around the nation, Walter residents are looking forward to when COVID-19 is no longer a prominent threat, and when students can hang out with their friends like normal.
“Hopefully when this is all over, we will be able to experience college how it should be experienced,” Coyler said. — Chandler Fleming
Photo: Freshmen living in Walter Hall on campus are still facing strict COVID-19 protocols and having difficulty building interpersonal connections, despite the recent improvement of the Washington County health risk (Chandler Fleming)