The Stags are back at Fairfield University! Happy (and mostly healthy) students are finally back into the swing of on-campus life after winter break, this Spring 2022 semester.
Having learned from our post-Thanksgiving panic, pre-emptive testing before returning to campus was a great strategy. Screened for COVID-19 before their arrival, students have much more freedom, with dining services fully operating, the RecPlex open and classes set to be held in person. This has been so refreshing! Spending time with friends at meals, going to the gym and staying active in the community is so needed after such a long time away from campus life. Students are surely enjoying the fruit of this smart return-to-campus initiative.
New this semester, G-Force Security has stationed guards around campus to enforce COVID-19 protocol. Acting as a force to be reckoned with, officers ensure students are properly wearing masks indoors. If I’m going to be honest, I think this effort is childish. While maintaining low rates of transmission is essential in making sure the semester runs smoothly, enforcing mask policies by calling people out as they walk into buildings is not the best way to go about this.
Undergraduate students are adults. Treating students like children on the rare occasion that they lower their mask for seconds with a Dunkin’ breakfast sandwich in hand is quite simply ridiculous. It is so over the top that students are losing respect for protocol enforcement altogether. To be quite honest, being treated like a child is degrading, and it encourages child-like behavior.
Regardless of this push, I truly appreciate Fairfield’s continued efforts of maintaining in-person classes. Getting up and physically going to class every day does a lot to help mental health. There is something about coming back from a long day of classes, in-person meetings or maybe a library trip that makes me feel a lot more confident and productive on campus. I think students need that, and I am so glad that the University has gone above and beyond to grant students that opportunity.
As a sophomore biology and chemistry double major, sophomore student Will Spak appreciates the in-person experience in classes, saying, “having taken classes online and in-person I can confidently say, and I think that the majority will agree with me, that being in person for classes is absolutely necessary in order to learn properly.”
Being physically present in class helps me pay attention. The looming temptation to scroll through Instagram is too tempting online. Spending time with peers in the classroom, coordinating meals or coffee plans before or after class and even just having somewhere to be is so much more conducive to learning. Staring at a screen fries my motivation, and limits my relationship with professors.
I will say, however, that the no “Zoom-in” option for students with Covid, and the University’s lack of quarantine housing is definitely difficult to manage. With a variant as contagious as Omicron, people will get Covid. At this point, it is a fact of life. Expecting students who get Covid and have to quarantine, by no fault of their own, to make up a week’s worth of class lecture material and assignments after the fact is difficult.
With that said, the lack of University-provided quarantine housing is somewhat unfair, and it often targets students not from the Northeast. Making students who cannot realistically travel home pay for quarantine is a big ask. Especially as the University pushes for regional diversity, punishing these students for situations out of their control is not very inclusive.
Though this situation seems harsh, however, I recognize that it is all part of Fairfield’s broader plan to incentivize students to stay safe, without having quarantine housing as a crutch. With that said, the University has also been understanding, reimbursing students for housing in certain scenarios.
As campus life goes on amid this never ending pandemic, regardless of the specifics, Fairfield University is a great place to be. Masked or not, we are together, the campus is busy and students are happy to be back! Welcome home Stags!