It’s been almost a year since everyone’s lives were turned upside down due to the COVID pandemic. At this point in time last year, we could throw parties, gather in large masses at The Roost and enjoy a variety of MAC/SAC events without having to worry about harming anyone else’s health.
Nowadays, we can’t even leave our living spaces without having to put on a mask and grab a bottle of hand sanitizer. We can only attend our classes in-person for half of the usual time, and in some cases, we can’t attend in-person classes at all. We’re barely able to see our friends besides meals, and some of our friends either are attending classes remotely or never returned to Mercyhurst after last spring, so most contact with them is through texts or calls. Life on campus has now become almost suffocating, and that’s why I believe the restrictions should be loosened somewhat. While the restrictions are helpful, there are only so many we can handle. I’m not saying that we should eliminate them entirely; that just puts the entire campus at risk of a super-spreader event. Instead, the students should be allowed to be given a little more freedom.
In most of the dorms on campus, students are only allowed one guest per dorm, which makes it unfair if more than one roommate wants to bring a guest. Where I live, we are allowed one guest per resident, so since most apartments here have two residents, we are allowed up to four people in one apartment, which is something that could be extended to the dorms. Additionally, students can only visit others within their living regions, so I’m not able to visit my friends in Ryan Hall because I live in the Mercy Apartments, which is part of the freshman region. We should be allowed to visit our friends in their living spaces even if they’re not in our region, otherwise we’re not able to hang out with them as much as we want. However, the biggest reason why I’m such a big advocate for loosening restrictions is because of the impact they have had on our mental health. Being isolated for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to us.
Coming to Mercyhurst basically transformed me into a social butterfly, but after everything suddenly shut down last spring, I had to resort to taking classes from my bedroom. By the time I returned to campus last fall, the social skills that I had developed over the previous year were pretty much vanquished, and I never went outside much besides for walks or for any in-person classes. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I ate at the Grotto rather than take my food to go and eat at my apartment. My attendance at MAC/SAC events and The Roost, which had been frequent the previous semester, had been reduced to almost zero. Luckily, I’ve been more social so far this semester, but I was definitely set back by the restrictions and the pandemic in general, and who knows how long it’ll be before I’m back to my social mindset pre-pandemic. It’s not just a matter of what we want when it comes to restrictions and freedom; it’s what we need. If students are to have improved mental, physical, and emotional health, then it’s important for Mercyhurst to try and loosen their restrictions.