Coming from Atlanta, Georgia, Nadiyah Timmons wanted the experience of moving away from home and into a new city, despite on campus changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“I want to be able to go out of my comfort zone a lot more often than I already did in high school,” said Timmons, a freshman journalism major. “It was really just a step for me and my future career goals.”
Students moved into residence halls last week after they reopened since closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, 3,700 students moved into residence halls at Temple University, compared to 5,398 in 2019, The Temple News reported.
Suite-style housing options like Morgan Hall, 1940 Residence Hall, 1300 Residence Hall, White Hall and Temple Towers allow enough space for students to social distance themselves.
Communal style dorms like Johnson and Hardwick Hall are no longer a housing option for students. The halls will be used as a space for students who show symptoms for COVID-19 or have tested positive to quarantine, said Olan Garrett, the director of University Housing and Residence Life.
Timmons, who is living in 1940 Residence Hall, said there is only so much she can do to prepare herself to live in a space with hundreds of people.
“One thing I am trying to do is to just be cautious,” she added. “Cautious of who I am hanging around, cautious of their habits as well as mine.”
Students can visit rooms in their residence halls, but cannot visit other residence halls, Garrett said. Some common spaces will be open to students with limited capacity, but others will remain locked.
In their training, housing directors, resident assistants and other staff were nervous, but excited, for move-in, Garrett said.
“The general nervousness, it’s not a, ‘We’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing,’ it’s just a general fear,” Garrett added. “We are now navigating, asking RAs to navigate the responsibilities and also our staff to do so in the context of a situation we’ve never been in.”
Jay Booden, a sophomore sports and recreation management major said his decision to live on campus was difficult, as he lives about half an hour away in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
“Safety-wise, it might have been smarter to stay at home, but all of my friends are returning to campus this year and I feel like I would be a lot more focused academic-wise surrounded by my peers,” Booden said. “That was the main factor that made me decide to come back.”
The residence halls seem to be running similarly to years past, with the exception of being mindful of social distancing and following the public health pillars Temple laid out, he added.
“But I think personally, it’s not going to be much different because I try to be generally safe and distanced from people anyway,” Booden said. “As long as I continue to be healthy and safe and I know my friends who are living in my room also do the same thing, so we should be fine.”
Mekhi Hayes, a freshman sports and recreation management major, said he almost pulled out his housing deposit when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Hopefully spring semester things open up, hopefully a vaccine comes out to the point where we can have an authentic college experience and take it from here,” Hayes added.
Even if residence halls have to be shut down early like last spring, Booden said he would be disappointed, but wouldn’t blame Temple.
Booden expects that students in Morgan Hall North will live up to the new policies in place for this semester, he said.
“Having the sanitation stations around sounds pretty good, enforcing that everyone wears masks, at least in common areas would be pretty nice,” he added. “Overall, making sure people aren’t doing unsafe habits, which is like having a bunch of people over and allowing parties.”
Timmons said she hopes Temple continues to keep her informed about cases in her residence hall through the semester.
“If someone in our building gets [COVID-19], I think that everyone in the building should know that someone has it, just so that they don’t contaminate other people or spread the disease even further,” Timmons said.