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On-campus housing vs. off-campus housing during the COVID-19 pandemic

After the COVID 19 outbreak was announced, many colleges and universities around the United States took immediate action, closing schools, protecting the health of students. During the Spring Semester of 2020, Salisbury University transitioned to online classes, many using the online platform, Zoom. However, this fall, Salisbury University has reopened, giving students the opportunity to live on-campus or off-campus. Currently, the biggest question remains: Is it safer for students to live off-campus or on-campus during the COVID 19 pandemic? After close consideration, I believe on-campus housing is safest for SU students because of underclassmen-related benefits, on-campus COVID-19 guidelines and enforcements and the accessibility of medical and safety resources. However, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Jada Odom, an SU student currently living on-campus addressed the benefits of her living situation. “…living on campus has its benefits, there are a lot of measures that we are taking in order to prevent the spread [of COVID-19,]” Odom stated. Additionally, Odom commented on SU’s freshmen class, the class that is spending their first year at college amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s important to live on campus during Freshman year to get the experience but also to keep them safe!” Personally, I agree with Odom; the Freshman class has just entered the university, and as such, it’s important for them to live on-campus. Many freshmen are still learning their way around campus; they need to understand the rules of the university. Additionally, if they need any medical assistance, living on campus provides freshmen with easy accessibility to health-related services. Since this is the first time SU is dealing with the pandemic, many have become the first generation of college students to experience social distancing practices on campus. I believe living on campus would help students adjust to COVID-19- related changes and precautions. However, Odom also acknowledged the possible risk of roommates transferring the virus to one another. “You are also exposed,” Odom stated, referring to the chance of contracting COVID-19, risking a possible medical emergency and potentially having to quarantine all parties involved. Although potential risks exist, many students, including myself, feel living on campus is safer. Christian Diaz-Hernandez, an SU student gave furtherer insight regarding his opinion of on-campus and off-campus safety. “It’s safer to live on campus because it’s a more controlled environment,” Diaz-Hernandez stated. I believe this is true; the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 is lower because the initiatives and precautions enforced by residential assistants (RA) within on-campus living. For example, I live in Seagull Square; we wear masks in the hallways, outside our rooms, a precaution that is enforced and encouraged by RAs. Additionally, RAs will not allow more than one guest, per student, to visit resident dorms; any potential guest that does enter must also live on campus. RA’s will not allow off-campus students or people who do not attend the school to enter. On the other hand, regarding off-campus housing, I feel the risk of testing positive is higher because there are no guest restrictions- no limit as to how many or where the guests are coming from. During an interview with Taxon Thomas, the leasing consultant of University Orchard off-campus housing, I was provided with information regardinng the procedures for students who have tested positive for COVID-19. “It’s really every man for themselves,” Thomas said. However, Thomas added, “people call in to complain if their roommate has not been quarantined, we help students move to other units if they want to feel safer!” Although I believe on-campus housing is more effective in protecting SU’s students, Thomas’s statement does demonstrate off-campus housing is trying to help protect student health. Even though an effort is being made off campus, on-campus housing has closer accessibility medical resources, such as the student health center, located directly on campus. Therefore, I believe it is safer to live on campus because more resources are available to deal with COVID-19 related issues; resources such as the RAs and the SU health center.



Staff writer

Featured Image: Emma Reider image.

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