CSUSM housing welcomed 1,500 residents to the UVA and QUAD for the academic year

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Photo by Tania Ortiz

CSUSM Housing welcomed students back to the UVA and QUAD residential areas before the start of the fall semester.

Kinsey Canez, Staff Writer

COVID-19 left classrooms empty, made students endure awkward zoom meeting exits and left rooms vacant at CSUSM’s UVA and the QUAD as most students opted for a semester at home to complete classes virtually during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This all changed on Apr. 17 when  applications for on-campus housing appeared in student’s email inboxes. According to CSUSM’s housing office, applications filled up at a faster rate than usual as many awaited an opportunity for a tangible change in their transition into college.

“We have approximately 1,500 residents at both the UVA and the QUAD,” said Interim Director of Residential Education Allie Serrano in an email.

“We hope that the return to the UVA/QUAD will enhance the students’ co-curricular engagement and sense of community after a challenging year.” said Serrano

In a similar vein to the changes CSUSM has put into practice to mitigate the spread of the virus and its multiplying variants, on-campus housing experience for the 2021-2022 academic  year brings new challenges that were nonexistent in prior years.

Masks are required for all residents in communal areas at all times, from elevators and laundry rooms to passing a fellow resident on the way to either destination. The vaccine or weekly testing policy matches those that are required of the greater CSUSM population.

The greatest precaution takes form through the campus housing’s guest policy, which is on temporary hold to negate the contraction of COVID-19 within the residential community. As an alternative, residents are recommended to socialize in small groups with other housing residents.

These adjustments are also felt by another group of students: those serving as resident advisors (RA) and residential peer mentors (RPM). As an RPM, planning events and opportunities for students to find social connections through academics is key and the ongoing pandemic has essentially caused them to reimagine these events in a space where in person and virtual access can live in unison.

For Madison McCarthy, a sophomore and RPM, the barrier between forming a community with peers enrolled in similar curriculum and being cautious of people’s comfortability levels during the ongoing pandemic has been challenging.

Some events that were expected to have substantial turnout have resulted in only a handful of students showing up. Furthermore, when held over Zoom attendance is more scarce than in person.

“You just never know how people are going to feel when it comes to our programs,” said McCarthy .

For student residents, and a great deal of anyone navigating life in 2021, the uncertainty that comes in interacting with others whose vaccination status may be unknown is a continuing struggle this school year.

But, there is a lot to look forward to. Casual conversations with a neighbor while waiting for a laundry cycle to end, bonding with roommates after a busy week of classes and the comfort that comes with being surrounded by people navigating similar changes.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos