After spending five months at home, it was a no brainer for senior Brandon Nguyen to spend his final year at UR physically in Rochester, seeing old friends and finishing out his college years — somewhat — in person. 

Since the fall semester kicked off on Wednesday, the Rochesterian’s confidence in the University’s reopening plans seems to be paying off so far. 

“I’m glad things […] are going well,” Nguyen said. “I’m just hoping […] we can stay on campus a little bit longer.”

First-years Tsipora Gil and Melyssa Correa-Diaz have been pleased with the student body’s response so far.

“I think everyone is putting effort into making it a good experience,” Gil said.

Correa-Diaz was impressed by how respectful students have been towards communal spaces in her residence hall and praised her RA and D’Lions for helping to get her settled.

But for some students who spent their entire summer on campus, the school’s reopening brought about mixed feelings and safety concerns. 

“Honestly, I was anxious,” junior Abdelrahman Nahar said. Over the course of summer, the campus was mostly empty, and Nahar felt more comfortable. 

“Now I barely go to campus because I feel it’s not safe,” Nahar said, although he acknowledged that it has been reassuring to see people wearing masks and physical distancing. 

It has been a bittersweet experience for Nahar, who wanted to reconnect with friends but understood he wouldn’t be able to interact with them how he would have liked.

Second-year students Teddy Miller and Elyse Jones enjoy the newly installed gazebo on the residential quad. Image courtesy of Henry Litsky.

Some first-years highlighted the gazebos in the Residential Quad as a place for meeting friends from other residential buildings. Correa-Diaz, who spoke to the Campus Times while hanging out with friends in one of these newly installed gazebos, thought they were a great idea. “I love this space; I wish there was more [because] they fill fast.” 

While some students have felt challenged meeting new people, first-year Max Neiderbach said the Guidebook app, set up by the orientation team, helped him meet students with similar interests.

Most students shared concerns about the possibility of their classmates partying. Some said that even though the school can try to prevent parties on campus, students can still hold them off-campus.

Junior Dennis Boateng is skeptical of the effectiveness of Dr. ChatBot, as he worries students can be forgetful. For Boateng, more frequent testing, such as daily temperature checks, would be ideal. Senior Anna Gao recommended bi-weekly testing of at least 20-25% of students as an improvement to the current random strategy the school is utilizing.

Some students were also concerned people will ignore the guest policy, but they hope students will be responsible and follow it to a certain extent — like drawing personal boundaries at bringing a certain number of friends, or not bringing off-campus guests into the dorms. 

Although a fair share of the interviewees preferred online instruction due to the present circumstances, others like sophomore Jael Ernest-Fleurant love the in-person components.

“I appreciate the accommodation from the school with the hybrid model, being a person who can’t sit in front of a screen all day,” Ernest-Fleurant said. 

Likewise, Nguyen spoke about the importance of collaborative learning and being around other people in an educational environment, which is something he enjoys.

Gao hopes students will continue to follow the University’s guidelines as the semester progresses and called for the University to be transparent in regards to any positive cases on campus.

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