by Olivia Bretzman ’22
This past summer, the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to decide whether to study remotely or to return to campus for the fall semester. In making this difficult decision, one of the main factors that students considered was the safety of returning to school. With such a significant number of students moving into one concentrated area, there was an undeniably large possibility that the virus would enter campus and spread throughout the Providence College community (and, as the events of the past few weeks have revealed, the fear of an outbreak was not unreasonable).
Given that we are in a pandemic, cleanliness is of the utmost importance. The College acknowledged this fact, and most students arrived on campus with the assumption that sanitation and safety would be the top priority.
PC demonstrated its commitment to student health and safety by delaying the move-in process for students living in Davis and Bedford Halls in order to ensure residents would be welcomed by properly cleaned rooms. These buildings were utilized as quarantine destinations for students arriving from international locations or hotspot states in the weeks leading up to the start of the semester, so the College wanted to make certain that all rooms were clean before allowing permanent residents to move in.
The “Returning Student Fall Move-In’’ section of the College’s website explained that the move-in date for residents of these buildings would be pushed back two weeks: “This delay is to make room for quarantining students from international locations and hot spot states. . .This will allow time for these halls to be fully cleaned, disinfected, and prepared for their move in.”
Unfortunately, however, upon arrival, some students discovered that their rooms were not as clean as they were expecting. Francesca Lorenzini ’22, a resident of one of these halls, said, “I was really upset because we were assigned a move-in date a week after classes began specifically so our room could be deep-cleaned after it was used for quarantine space. When we arrived, though, the first thing we saw was the fridge pulled out with the wall behind it covered in dark mold and uncovered a white lighter and a chicken patty underneath. We immediately contacted Res Life, and they were extremely apologetic and quick to remove the mold.”
Although the prompt response by the Office of Residence Life is comforting, it is unfortunate that students felt unsafe in their new living areas during a time when germs and dirtiness pose an even greater threat to one’s health. Despite this, it is important to refrain from allowing our fears to create division by placing too much blame on others, as the pandemic has presented everyone with countless new problems and challenges to navigate.
Beth Sculley, assistant director of Residence Life & Housing, said, “COVID-19 has influenced nearly all of our operations from programming to housing to staffing. We can no longer program the way we used to particularly in the first-year areas. COVID-19 has completely redefined our community-building tactics. Perhaps what has been most difficult is balancing the emotional and social needs of students with guidance from public and state health officials. There is no blueprint or best practices for residence life during a pandemic.”
COVID-19 has dealt everyone a difficult hand. We must grant each other patience and understanding, and realize that it is not the responsibility of one person or department to keep our campus safe.
With in-person classes resuming this week, it is imperative to ensure that we are taking the actions necessary to protect ourselves and the people around us. Wipe down your area before and after sitting down. Keep your mask on for the entire duration of class. Do not come to class if you are experiencing any symptoms.
It is clear that COVID-19 has introduced new dangers and worries to our campus this semester. As such, it has never been more important to take safety into our own hands by doing our part to look out for the health and safety of ourselves and our fellow members of the Friar family.