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COVID-19 presents many challenges for new students on campus

Since the beginning of the pandemic, campus life has changed drastically at schools all over the country, including Ohio University. Adapting to campus life is already a monumental moment within itself, but transferring to a new campus in the age of COVID-19 creates an even bigger challenge.

Alyssa Goodenow, a sophomore studying strategic communication, spent her freshman year at Kent State University, or KSU, before transferring to OU for Fall Semester. 

“I didn't really have a lot of in-person classes, so that part is a little bit different,” Goodenow said. “I feel like they did enforce the masks in the hallways less and in the dorms.”

Goodenow said the protocols in place at OU are very similar to the protocols that were in place at KSU when she was there. The similar guidelines set in place by the COVID-19 operation teams at both schools helped Goodenow know what to expect when moving onto campus for the first time. Despite an overall straightforward transition, there were a few things Goodenow did not expect.

“They pretty much lived up to my expectations,” Goodenow said. “I feel like (the) people in charge didn't enforce wearing masks properly as much as I expected. I would see a bunch of people in class wearing masks under their noses.”

John Agresta, a sophomore studying finance, spent his freshman year at Cleveland State University, or CSU, before transferring to OU in the fall of 2021.

“There were not as many COVID protocols set in place,” Agresta said. “They did require masks in dorm buildings, classrooms and all other university buildings. They could require you to take a COVID test if you were possibly exposed by someone in the classroom or someone on the same floor as you.”

For some, the pandemic has largely affected the way students connect with people and make new friends. This has created many challenges for students when it comes to settling into a new campus.

Goodenow said she either already knew the people on campus beforehand or met them through her class’ Facebook group or in class. 

In-person classes have played a big role in helping new students meet their new peers. 

“The COVID rules hadn't really played a huge part in me meeting new people since (a) large portion of my classes are in person,” Agresta said. “There are still clubs going on, so I haven't really had trouble meeting new people. It's just a pain having to wear a mask and not being able to see their face when you meet them.”

The adjustment to OU in the age of COVID-19 hasn’t just presented challenges to new students but also to students who are just now returning to campus for the first time in a while.

Dori Gray, a junior studying journalism, is living in Athens this semester for the first time since she was a freshman in 2017. She said the start of this semester is drastically different from the start of her first semester. 

“First day of school my freshman year, it was like parties on every street,” Gray said. “This year, it was like radio silence, so that was a huge change.”

Gray said there are still many ways for new Bobcats to get involved in student life while staying safe.

“The way I got involved was through my learning community and seeing what people in my learning community were doing,” Gray said. “I think that's still a viable option, and that's a way to stay safe because you're already hanging out with them.”

Places on campus like the Campus Involvement Center have many resources available on their website for students to find ways to make connections on campus while also staying safe. 


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