Trying to Maintain Dorm Life in a Time of Social Distancing

It may feel as if the articles of The Oredigger Newspaper are all playing off of the same broken record, but this campus must keep continually facing what we wish were more of an elephant in the room. Said topic is obviously the everpresent COVID-19 pandemic, as well as all of the restrictions that have followed it. While online classes and limited campus facilities are not entirely new due to the student body’s experiences with them late last semester, the return of occupied dorms has called forth for even more restrictions, some of which more directly affect students’ lifestyles because of their existence within the private, student living spaces. Some students have had strong reactions, and some have given little care to the subject, since they accept the new paradigm that has followed with outbreak prevention measures. To gauge a better understanding of Mines’ view on the new living conditions, The Oredigger has conducted several interviews with students across a variety of buildings to discover the story straight from the masked horse’s mouth.

Firstly, Jackson Hall appeared to be a strong introduction to dorm restrictions considering how advanced and open the building’s original purpose was. Trevor Jackson, a Sophomore majoring in computer science and living on the fourth floor, offered a pleasantly buoyant take on the circumstances. Although he expressed his frustrations with the building’s lack of an oreprint station (an issue any Residence Life employee reading this should expeditiously fix), he answered questions concerning what restrictions exist and how they differed from his expectations with,

“There’s only a few [restrictions]… COVID has brought mask-related restrictions, and as such, there’s less social interaction on the floor. [Because of this], I feel much more comfortable since there are few people, and there’s more privacy. Things feel calm and go smoothly.”

Such a refreshing opinion of the situation unabashedly calls for more optimism to spread throughout campus, especially when many Mines students have consistently touted their frustrations with the stresses of balancing so many classes with all of the other components of their lives. For now, the conditions of dorm living may be nothing more than a short-term resting period, since Jackson also believes that,

“…dorm living won’t change much other than the social bounds. People will likely be more careful in the future.”

Next came a group of various students from Weaver Towers, another relatively advanced building here at Mines. Collectively, Jessica Wollesen, Akshitha Mudupu, Ahondra Bahena-Reza, and Brianna Diaz all gave a collective response to our questions.

1. How many restrictions are there and what are they?

“Masks outside our suite, only one outside person can be in the suite at a time and they must be wearing a mask, limit the number of people in common areas (tables downstairs, the kitchen, laundry room, etc.)”

 2. How does it compare to what you imagined your first year of college living would be like?

“COVID in itself is definitely not what [we] expected. Despite this, it has been pretty fun to meet people from other suites. Being in a suite, we have a lot more freedom to move around without our masks in comparison to other dorms. Also, since there’s 6 other girls in the suite, we definitely had a head start in making friends. When one person meets someone, soon after they meet everyone else in the suite.”

3. Are there any improvements you would suggest to make dorm life easier or more efficient?

“We wish that roommates could sit at the same table downstairs to study (of course we’ll keep our masks on!)”

4. What do you think the current path of dorm living will be over the next few years?

“As COVID becomes more of a norm, we will continue to adapt to the circumstances whatever they may be.”

5. Any comments you would like to add?

“Bucket the puppy is the best part of living in Weaver. Period.”

Similar to Trevor Jackson, this group from Weaver has maintained positivity throughout their time so far on campus, even with a few circumstances they wish they could change to cultivate more social interaction between students in their building. Although they may only interact closely with each other and the other members of their suite, they present an acceptance spreading throughout campus that highlights the rapid maturity many Mines students share (even when they are still figuring out their identities in a new environment away from home).

Last on the list, Aidan Rosprim, a first-year majoring in Mechanical Engineering, kindly offered his opinion as one of the freshest faces at Mines, as well as one of the most honest students in his statement on the meal organization at Mines Market:

“We are advised to finish eating within half an hour so other students can come in. Which would be fine but the food portions are very small and I normally have to go through at least twice to get everything that I can eat… it has become a balancing act in which I need to keep my food from falling because I am trying to carry a to-go box, a salad, dressing, cup of fruit, and cup of water… Sometimes Mines market will go all take out, so nobody is able to eat in there because they are doing a deep clean for Covid. When this happens there is almost no reason to go get food there because the portions are so small.”

He went on to elaborate how his perception of college was warped by this historical shift, detailing and explaining all of the more specific limitations out of the public view that students must still face in their dayto-day living (both in the dorms, as well as other facilities).

“I obviously did not expect Covid to be a part of my first year of college… I feel that it may be unsafe to use [the kitchen] because someone could have Covid and [could have] used the kitchen and end up passing it on to someone else… I’ve always preferred to do things in person and not online, but with Covid it’s impossible to avoid. Now most of my professors and TAs now have office hours online which is good and bad. It is easier for me to get help on some of my work, but it is definitely harder to build up a connection with my professors since I only really get to talk to them during their office hours.”

Even with all of the criticism, Rosprim did what every Oredigger does well and offered his thoughts on how systems could be adjusted to increase efficiency while still maintaining collective health & wellness.

“When we get food [from Mines Market], we should be able to get more food at once instead of being told to come back after we are done; this really just makes it harder for everyone to get their food…”

Looking to the student body, one discovers competency, perseverance, and–most importantly–compassion across many responses to the limitations placed upon campus living in the middle of a pandemic. Even when issues concerning social interaction or accommodations arise, Mines scholars reflect on their experiences as engineers to build solutions that will aid in making it through such an unforeseeable future. Until a relative normalcy returns, those living and attending classes on campus should remember how fortunate they are to still have a university waiting for them. Aidan Rosprim stated it best in a gracious recognition of the constant work by the teaching body and staff:

“[In the future], dorms will be much more capable of dealing with students that end up sick. I can definitely tell that all the professors and staff are doing their best to keep us safe and healthy and that I just want to give them a huge “thank you” for everything that they are doing for us.” •

It’s not uncommon for water fountains to be out of service, but . . . it’s not usually like this. Image courtesy of Amelia Low.


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