Students Reflect on Distanced Campus, Albeit Some Violations


Dickinson’s academic quad. Photo courtesy of the Dickinson College website.

Claire Jeantheau '21, Staff Writer

With the first six weeks of the semester behind them, students living on Dickinson’s campus describe a hushed atmosphere, along with—barring some exceptions—general compliance with new coronavirus distancing guidelines.

Jiberly Sandoval ’22 characterized the campus feel as “quiet” and “calm.” 

“I think everyone that is here is happy to be here[,] but we are all definitely missing our friends who aren’t here and generally how campus used to feel,” Sandoval wrote in a message to The Dickinsonian.

Sandoval particularly misses “being able to have the same get-togethers, movie nights, [and] family dinners” that she holds with her usual group of friends. Although she has more time for schoolwork, she “would rather be socializing.”

Muhammed Burhan ’21 recently founded the Life and Style Society, a student group focused on photography, fashion, and videography. Although he has kept busy planning virtual events, the campus environment has lost the buzz of in-person activity. 

“It’s pretty isolated due to lack of social events and gatherings,” Burhan wrote. “People barely sit in the [Caf], [and] most academic buildings are closed so mostly you are just locked in your room doing homework and assignments. At the same time Carlisle seems very [quiet] and relaxing if one want[s] to go and study on the grass (though that won’t happen as fall and cold are coming).”

The college has instituted an addendum to its Community Standards for on-campus students which spells out requirements for hygiene and gathering size during the pandemic. The addendum has also impacted students’ ability to use facilities. 

“The library has remote pick up if we want to order something from their catalogue, but [I] haven’t had the need to do it yet,” Burhan noted. “I was able to borrow a camera from the [M]edia [C]enter though.”

Sandoval believes that students are attentive to each other’s needs with the guidelines in place. “We’re all looking out for each other in terms of having hand sanitizer on our person at all times and having extra masks,” she said.

Sagun Sharma ’21, a resident advisor for the Goodyear apartments, said that most community members were adhering to the guidelines, though full mask-wearing remains a challenge.  

On Jul. 1, Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order requiring residents to wear a face covering whenever they leave their homes. However, Sharma said “Not everyone wears masks outside.”

In addition, some staff members from the Department of Public Services and the college mailroom were seen without masks at the beginning of the semester. “This was the case before we talked to [Associate Dean of Students] Angie [Harris] and [Vice President for Student Life] George [Stroud],” Sharma added. 

An anonymous tip was given to The Dickinsonian by a Goodyear resident about gatherings which seemed to violate policy. The resident saw larger meet-ups, described as “parties,” on the back porches of the building; the same student also frequently heard “rowdy” noise through the walls from guests, while acknowledging this did not necessarily go against the rules. 

“We’ve had conversations with folks who, if we have heard that students are engaging in ways that we think may be a little risky for this current environment, we’ve had conversations just to bring our concerns to their attention, and the students have responded,” said George Stroud, Vice President and Dean of Student Life. “Fortunately, for us the students who are here have been pretty responsible.” 

Sharma was not aware of any group that she would call a “party” near the building. “Because our restricted period is over, some people have been getting together,” she explained. The addendum allows each occupant of a room to invite one guest from on-campus, with an expectation of masking. 

Amanda George, associate dean of residence life & housing, observed low levels of noncompliance with the Community Standards. She stated that, although she had received information about potential violations, these cases were being dealt with one-on-one with individual community members. 

“I’m not sure that I could give an accurate number of situations where the addendum expectations were not met  – not all of it rises to the level of conduct, and we don’t always learn about all issues,” George wrote.

Stroud also mentioned how the students on campus this semester are helping assess the feasibility of bringing students back in the future. 

“We’ve made it very clear to the students who are here on campus that part of what they are doing is helping us to get a better understanding as to how we will be able to best manage everyone when they return again to campus, said Stroud. “And so I think they see that as part of their responsibility to help us through this process.”