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COVID-19’s impact on student residence living

student stands in front of dorm with mask
Westfall Hall resident Ryott Trietsch in front of his residence hall after picking up a meal order from the dining hall Oct. 26. Many students living on campus have found the mask policies to be an annoyance at times. However, in the colder months, masks are helpful to keep warm when grabbing food from the dining halls. (Ciara Sackett | The Collegian)

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Colorado State University had to make many changes in how the campus operates, especially with residence halls.

CSU freshmen spent their orientation and Ram Welcome on Zoom calls and haven’t been able to have guests in their dorm rooms.

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5 people maximum in lounge
Outside a lounge in Westfall Hall, a sign warns residents of the five-person occupancy limit, Sept. 16, 2020. (Emily Seale | The Collegian)

“I think it’s definitely reduced the amount of social interactions I have and the connections I’ve been able to make,” said Althea Wilson, a freshman student at CSU.

Executive Director of Housing and Dining Services Mari Strombom said changes included increasing the frequency and level of cleaning throughout buildings — increasing community bathroom cleanings to twice per day and limiting suite bathroom cleanings to once per month to reduce staff entry into rooms. Residents living in suites are now provided with a cleaning kit.

The guest policy also changed. Non-resident guests aren’t permitted past lobby areas, and only guests from within the same floor are allowed into each other’s rooms. CSU has also set aside designated quarantine spaces on and near campus for residents who test positive for COVID-19, as well as their close contacts.

The new policies have had an impact on freshman students beginning college.

“COVID-19 has affected all of us greatly, including our residential community,” Strombom said.

Wilson spoke about how she had a difficult time at the beginning of the school year last August. Orientation and Ram Welcome were both held virtually at the beginning of the school year.

“It was really hard for me at the beginning of last year to adjust to it,” Wilson said. “I was really excited to go to college and get the experience of meeting new people and going to different events and being a part of the school traditions. When everything went virtual, it’s a much harder dynamic to connect with people when you’re all just little boxes on the screen.”

However, Strombom said the procedures have been effective, and some students have been able to adjust to the COVID-19 procedures.

Girls walk into bathroom
Allison hall resident, Ashlie Wainwright walks into the community bathroom with a mask on. This year in residence halls, all residents must wear masks outside of their dorm. (Emily Seale | The Collegian)

“The COVID-related procedures, along with our partnership with the Pandemic Preparedness Team to implement routine testing in the residence halls and apartments, have allowed us to continue operations,” Strombom said.

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According to the fall survey of hall and apartment residents, 67% of students felt that their live-on experience during the fall semester either met or exceeded their expectations.

Danielle Ranisate, another freshman student at CSU, spoke about how she is still glad she came to CSU despite the limitations.

“I think that I’m still glad that I did live in the dorms and physically came to college because I still have a roommate, and I still have a lot of that,” Ranisate said.

Strombom said CSU Housing & Dining Services has created ways for students to be involved.

“We have and continue to come up with new and creative ways for residents to get involved and be in community virtually and within their floor, and we continue to see demonstrations of students who have adjusted and are enjoying their on-campus living experience,” Strombom said.

Piper Russell can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PiperRussell10.

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About the Contributor
Piper Russell
Piper Russell, News Editor
Piper Russell is one of The Collegian’s news editors this year and is thrilled to be working in the role. She started as a news reporter her sophomore year, covering news happening around the Colorado State University campus and the Fort Collins community. She continued to cover CSU and Fort Collins news as well as the Associated Students of CSU during her junior year. Russell is now a senior double majoring in journalism and media communication and Spanish. Although she began college undeclared, she quickly discovered her passion for journalism through the classes she took at CSU and her work at The Collegian. She’s always loved all things involving reading and writing, so working at The Collegian ended up being the perfect fit. As news editor, Russell ensures The Collegian covers important CSU and Fort Collins news accurately, truthfully and thoroughly. The Collegian has already given her many opportunities to hone her writing and reporting skills. She is very grateful and excited to have a leadership position at The Collegian, which will allow her to continue to grow as a reporter and editor. As well as writing, Russell can be found skiing, hiking, rafting and doing pretty much anything else outdoors, as she’s from the mountains. She loves traveling and hopes to do more of it in the future. She will also read any book she can get her hands on.

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