COVID-19 has severely affected many universities in America. At some schools, students who decided to stay on campus are treated poorly, such as at NYU where students were given moldy food in quarantine. The current number of cases place Fairfield back in the yellow level after rising into the orange level for a time. A lot of people are working hard to make life on campus possible, but a very crucial part of it is the work of residence assistants (RAs) who are working every day to keep us safe.
In a pandemic context, some parts of the work of an RA are easier, but most of them have become a lot more challenging. In the past, RAs were trying to keep residents engaged by being creative about event ideas and bulletin boards. However, now they are working with what they have in order to create events that are COVID-19-safe, yet still interesting.
Not only that, but residents are often deterred from going to events, for fear of catching COVID-19. Speaking about this, Luka Zedginidze ‘22, an RA in Regis Hall, said, “We tried to substitute the social needs to go out with our programs, but there’s nothing much we can do. You just have to actively try to maintain your social life; it’s very important to engage and keep up with your friends.”
Zedginidze encourages students to attend the events and programs. “Go to events by RAs, NSLs and FUSA; we always make sure that it’s safe from COVID-19 and it’s a great way to meet new people.”
Events through Zoom aren’t doing any better; the number of attendants are significantly lower compared to in-person events. This is not only because Zoom doesn’t allow everyone to get to know each other, but also it seems nearly impossible to make appealing events when there is not much to work with online.
When asked about the worst part of the job of an RA right now, Zedginidze said, “It is to tell everyone to only have less than four people in their room, even if they are already neighbors. Mostly they are very understanding and collaborative, but I still feel bad for taking that away from their first-year experience.”
But as always, there are also positive aspects in the job. “The RAs in my building are the best; they are like a family to me. I think that’s what made my job more fulfilling in this difficult time,” Zedginidze said. “I think that’s mostly the case in other residential halls, too.”
Academics is also a part of the struggle; Zoom classes are not going well for most of Zedginidze’s first-year residents.
“It’s hard for this year’s first-year students to be inspired by their professors like we were in normal circumstances, and they lose a lot of opportunities too. Because of that, it would be harder for them to choose a major,” he said.
Therefore, in this difficult time, we need to be even more active in using Fairfield’s resources, such as the Career Center, Writing Center, Math Center, library, etc. Professors are also very caring, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
Of course, it is very hard to have a good time in college in the midst of a pandemic, but we need to keep in mind the safety of other people, as well as ourselves. Zedginidze advised everyone to always keep in mind the safe six-foot distance, even if you’re outside. People tend to forget about this at the food trucks.
“The University should be more mindful about this too–food trucks can be a direct cause of spreading the virus fast,” said Zedginidze.
He also advised everyone to try and make the most out of what we have, go to the Health Center even when you are only experiencing slight discomfort or symptoms and try going to Psychological and Counseling Services.
“And,” he noted, “just wear the bloody masks!”