Opinion: The “no guest” policy is necessary, but isolating for those in student housing

On Aug. 14, on-campus residential students got an email informing them that a change had been made to the housing guest policy. 

According to the new policy, “Due to COVID-19, non-resident guests are prohibited from Boise State Housing and Residence Life halls and apartments, including residents of other buildings and family members… A student will only be able to access the building and room/suite they are assigned.” 

This is just one of many ways that Boise State has implemented new rules in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. I, by no means, disagree with this rule; I understand why it was put in place and understand the logic behind it. However, it has made the first few weeks of life on campus a little depressing. 

Initially, I was to be moving into University Suites with three other roommates, but due to personal reasons, two of those roommates chose not to move in. Now, it is just me and my roommate residing in Clearwater 116. 

The only other person I have met in my building is my resident assistant (RA), who has facilitated roommate and community agreements over Zoom. These conversations, while important, have been timid and awkward. 

My other friends live off campus elsewhere, and it is a challenge to not be able to invite them over. Sure, we can meet at coffee shops or get lunch, but there is a comfort in being able to spend time with friends in your space. 

Movie nights and dinners hosted in the dorms were a highlight for me last year. Not being able to do that this year has proved to be more isolating than I  anticipated. 

I am lucky, however, to have a roommate who I have begun to consider a friend. We get along easily and have a good time together. On a consistent day-to-day basis, she is pretty much the only person I interact with. We end up spending a lot of our time binging TV shows rather than hanging out with other friends.

In my few in-person classes, social interactions between classmates have been severely limited. 

It is hard to strike up a conversation whilst hidden behind face masks and hindered by a fear of the virus. Being seated six feet apart makes any conversation difficult and awkward. 

One of the joys of college life, I discovered, was making friends with many different people from various classes, but that dynamic has disappeared this year. With the extremely necessary precautions in place, even just having friendly conversations has become a challenge. 

In the past, seeing others in the hallways of the dorms could be a fun interaction, but no, it feels as if we are pressing ourselves against the wall to avoid close contact. It is not exactly easy to stay six feet apart in a tight corridor. 

When my RA contacted me and the others on my floor about our community circle meeting, I wondered what would be covered. We ended up creating a set of community agreements, as well as brainstorming possible events our floor could have. 

Many creative options were offered, like bowling in the hallway or collectively decorating the billboard, but, of course, those interactions would most likely be limited to one person at a time. The sense of community I had last year with my floor has not been replicated this year, and I am not sure if it really can be. 

In our current world of masks and physical distancing, it is hard to make new connections. Even over Zoom, it is a challenge. 

Despite these challenges and the lack of community, I do hope it will only get better from here. Hopefully, these creative events will bring back that sense of belonging that I found last year.

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