Students struggle with no visitors policy in residence halls

María Fernanda Rubí

As part of Augie Strong Force, students are required to wear masks during the buildings except when being at their rooms. They are allowed to have a limited number of guests at their dorms and family members cannot come to the living area.
Because students are expected to receive visits from their parents, following this year’s guidelines can be challenging. CAs are ensuring students follow the established guidelines.
“People might be assuming the rules are lightened up, so as a residential life staff, you need to remind students that they [rules] are the same as when they first came here,” Laura Keenan, junior and first-year CA at Westerlin Residence Hall, said.
Some students have broken the rules by bringing their parents to the residence hall. “I think students thought parents were not allowed into their dorms, but it is the residence hall building,” Keenan said.
Luis Navarrete, a first-year student from El Salvador, was not aware family members were not allowed at the residence hall lobby. Last Saturday, Navarrete’s aunt came to visit him at Westerlin Residence hall, and stayed there for some minutes.
Navarrete’s aunt visited him as he needed help getting remaining dorm stuff and winter clothes. “I got to feel closer to home and to our family history,” Navarrete said. 
Keenan said that now, there are fewer ways for students to distract themselves from homesickness. 
“There is something about meeting in large groups that help you find your second family. It is more difficult to have those feelings and develop those relationships when there are guidelines to respect,” Keenan said.
Most of the events where students can socialize are held virtual. 
“It is not natural to build a close relationship through a screen,” Kennan said. “You just gotta sit in your dorm and feel your homesickness.”
At Seminary, some students have respected COVID-19 guidelines, including not bringing parents into the building.
“Being home the whole summer made me get used to not seeing anyone but my family,” Kara West, freshman and CA at Seminary, said. 
This academic semester, instead of having 25 single rooms for first-year students, there are over 100. 
“Because of this year’s many restrictions and more first-year students living alone, we expected a higher level of loneliness,” Resident Life Director Chris Beyer said.
Although the counseling office cannot share information about students, Beyer regularly checks with the personnel at the office to see if there are trends and patterns of homesickness and depression. “We haven’t seen any increase compared to last year’s,” Beyer said.
In an attempt to ease college transition with social distancing guidelines, CA’s have been planning events so students can get to know each other and escape from feeling homesick. Since the early beginning of the academic year, there has been held mostly online activities to create a sense of community on each residence floor.
Normally, students will open their room’s door and show their decorations to their floor mates. “It was a fun time coming with online programs and we get to see each other’s faces without having to wear masks,” Keenan said.