Jacob Crabtree, resident director of Mabee Hall, knows how hard it can be to find a community in college during a pandemic, especially for freshmen.
“It’s been really difficult to try and figure out the best way to continue to encourage and support and facilitate that community, while also trying to remain safe and being responsible with how we are doing things,” said Crabtree.
In a typical year, the Office of Resident Life holds events in each hall to encourage and build community for students. This year, however, things look a little different.
“We have tried to get very creative with things, do things on a much smaller scale, do a lot more things that are geared towards smaller communities with their specific RAs, rather than having an event for the entire hall like we would normally do a few times a year,” Crabtree said. “It’s just not something we can do this year and still feel like we are being responsible.”
After learning from last semester, Shannon Kaczmarek, director of ResLife and student advocacy services, said ResLife is more prepared to facilitate community-building activities and events for the spring, while keeping students safe in the process. So far, there are already 35 proposed events for this semester. Coffee bars have also been installed in each residence hall lobby, where students can get free coffee or hot chocolate.
“That’s just a very small way that we can serve them and engage with them in a community space,” said Kaczmarek.
As far as smaller events go, events vary across different halls. Some events include streaming sports events in different rooms to keep everyone socially distanced, door-decorating competitions and smaller groups of students that get together to play games.
Although ResLife is a key element in helping students find community, both Crabtree and Kaczmarek agree that ultimately, it is up to students to put themselves out there, in both ResLife and campus wide events, to find community for themselves if they feel it is something they are lacking.
“My advice is just for people to take that initiative on themselves,” said Crabtree. “It is really easy to just sit in your dorm room and in this time, feel like you are doing the right thing. But you can still get out and be safe and be responsible with what you are doing.”