The staff of the Residence Halls Association (RHA) at CSUSB are addressing and sharing some concerns and struggles the residence students have become subjected into since the pandemic began.
The RHA was in dismay after most of its students opted out of housing, during the spring quarter of 2020, when the announcement to transition into a non-face-to-face curriculum delivery had already been made. According to Alondra Gomez, RHA Director and third year communication studies major, about a couple hundred students are currently residing in dorms, when it was previously a couple thousand students.
Serrano Village and Coyote Village had to be closed down to meet COVID-19 safety regulations. “Students living in those two villages were moved to either Arrowhead Village or University Village,” said Gomez.
Some students did not have the option to return home. Low-income based students and international students have experienced limitations that prevent them from returning home. “It is very different from like wanting to go home and actually not having a place to go,” Quinay Ross, the RHA Business Administration Coordinator and third year political science student, stated.
Since safety guidelines changed for residence on campus, their experiences have changed as well. Destiny Shavers, the RHA National Communication Coordinator and third year psychology major, states, “It has extremely changed; it’s very different, of course, you can’t have visitors and things like that and, for the most part, it’s kind of like you have to stay in your dorm pretty much all the time. Like, you cannot go outside of campus – only if you’re going to get something essential, but then you’d have to come straight back into your dorm.”
If students decide to visit family or leave their apartment, the COVID-19 Daily Health Screen form must be filled out before returning to campus. If the students answer all questions in accordance to the safety guidelines, they will then be authorized to return back to their dorm.
“Temperature is not being taken when students return to housing nor is a testing required, but you are required to complete the COVID-19 Daily Health Screen,” says Gomez. “If a student tests positive, they must report it and they will be placed in another place in isolation until they test negative.”
Visitor restrictions are not limited to outsiders coming in and students leaving campus. “Students are not allowed to have other students over in their dorms even if they are all dorming. Everyone must stay in their own dorm. If you have a roommate, you are lucky you do, but if you don’t, then you are stuck alone,” said Gomez.
“There are two students per dorm but each remains on the opposite side to avoid any form of contact,” Shavers stated.
RHA enforces residents to follow sanitation guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Students must sanitize their own dorms with their own essentials and staff only sanitizes the outside, like elevators and stairs – things like that,” explained Gomez. Students are required to wear a face mask when leaving their dorms and maintain a social distance of six feet. Posters are also spread throughout the campus grounds that help remind the students to constantly wash their hands.
“Connections with friends have become different because I know I love to make friends and I like to meet new people. Now it’s a little hard to do that, and even if you see people, it’s kinda like you see them at a distance and you don’t get to make these friends. That has taken a big part of who I am honestly,” says Gomez.
Despite the limitations on social interactions within the dorms, there are ways to continue socializing with other students.
Shavers says, “Try to use our social media apps and stuff just so everybody can stay in groups. I know it is very difficult trying to find joy in these times, especially when you’re all by yourself, but just doing things for yourself and staying connected with others can be very helpful.”