Doing our part

Students, take responsibility for keeping campus open

Aubrey Rhoadarmer, Staff Writer

This isn’t what college was supposed to be.

Jessica Sheeres studies in Martin Square, where she is able to sit outside a safe distance from classmates. (Aubrey Rhoadarmer)

Students were supposed to be able to stay up late laughing with their friends in their dorms, they were supposed to join a million clubs, supposed to go to every sports game, and they were supposed to eat too much at the dining hall, then still go back for seconds.

That’s what was supposed to happen, but reality has been far from it.

Walking onto campus that first week was exciting for students, many of them realize how lucky they were to even be on campus at all. Many of their friends were still at home, doing school from their childhood bedrooms, but the students at Seattle Pacific University were some of the few across the nation who were able to move into dorms.

That elation didn’t last long, though, because pretty soon they were reminded of the rules, and they realized that college isn’t going to be anything like they wanted it to be.

Junior philosophy major Reagan Lyle, Resident Advisor on Fourth Hill, gave her thoughts during a socially-distanced interview. “The rules are strict and definitely unavoidable,” she explained,“but I also think they are necessary.” Students aren’t allowed into each other’s dorm rooms, or even onto other floors. The only time students are allowed to take off their masks is when they’re in their rooms with their doors shut, alone.

“I had a really great dorm experience all three years I lived in the dorms, and it’s definitely not the same [this year],” said senior classics major John Goodhew during a phone call. He was disappointed for the students living in the dorms this year, as the rules restrict them from having a lot of the same experiences he had.

It’s a challenge just to meet the people around you with all the rules in place. Some students don’t even know what their neighbors really look like, as every time they pass them in the hall their faces are covered by a mask. So far this year, dorm living has been a lonely experience.

Goodhew said, “The opportunities to interact with each other are not the same. That’s kind of the best part of living in the dorms, is living in proximity to people, but we’re trying to limit that proximity as much as possible.”

Lyle commented, ”I appreciate that SPU is putting in effort to keep people safe and ensure that students are following good guidelines in order to stay in school and stay on campus.”

However, not everybody is on the same page about following the rules.

First-year student Jessica Sheeres, an education major, has witnessed multiple instances of fellow students without masks on. During a socially-distanced interview, she gave a few examples.

“I frequently see people around my own dorm not wearing masks,” she commented, “And last week I saw some guys hanging out in Tiffany Loop that weren’t wearing masks.”

Lyle, too, has seen similar instances of rule-breaking, “Whether it’s from people who aren’t wearing their masks properly, or wandering the hallway without a mask, or not social distancing, or being in groups larger than five.” It is challenging to abide by every rule, but it’s worth the effort when it comes down to the safety of the entire SPU community.

Even if most people follow the rules, it doesn’t necessarily matter, because it only takes one for the virus to spread.

These rules haven’t been implemented just to make the students at SPU miserable, no matter how frustrating they are. They are meant to keep everyone safe, and the more students that bend the rules, the longer they will be kept in place.

Outside Weter Hall, (left to right) David Kumar, Joo Hwan Lee, and Joshua Hyodo social distance while they have dinner, as they are unable to eat together in Gwinn Commons due to COVID guidelines. (Aubrey Rhoadarmer)

It’s starting to look bleaker and bleaker each day whether SPU will be back to normal for any of the quarters this school year. There has been one confirmed COVID case for each week students have been on campus, and at this rate, SPU might just continue to be hybrid all year.

Goodhew felt worried about the larger-scale implications that could come from the rules being ignored.

“There’s already a dorm floor that’s been quarantined, and I would be really sad if it got to a point where SPU had to be shut down on a larger scale and have no more in-person classes, etc. So I definitely have a bit of that run through my head,” he said.

For Sheeres, it’s upsetting to see students being so flippant about the guidelines because for some students, having to go home could mean having to go hungry or having to go back to an unsafe family situation.

“I think it’s a bit selfish,” she explained. “Campus life is the most stable housing and safe housing a lot of students on campus have, and I think people should be more considerate of their classmates. Even if you have a good home life, that doesn’t mean your classmates do.”

The reality is that many students came back to campus because they needed to get away from their homes, but if the SPU community can’t do their part in trying to keep social distance, there is the chance that the few in-person classes and housing can be taken away if we continue to see so many COVID cases.

The restrictions are hard on everyone, but it’s even harder when certain students are acting as if everything is the same as it has always been because the reality is that it’s not. And unfortunately, things won’t go back to the way they were until everyone does their part. In Goodhew’s words, “Don’t be the one who makes us all have to go home.”