DePauw students adjust to school life on and off campus

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Over this past summer, Depauw announced their decision to offer classes both in-person and remotely in order to give students the best education possible while maintaining COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

At this time, 775 students, mostly freshman and sophomores, have returned to campus, 428 of whom are living in university housing, 347 in Greek residences; 98 more are commuters,and 862 students are learning entirely remotely. In this last month, students have been adjusting to their new normal. 

Nya Thornton, a first-year DePauw student living in Fishers, Indiana, chose to study remotely to be close to her family, stay safe in light of the virus and have the opportunity to save money. She has a big family who she is close with. She recently had a cousin pass away and said she “wanted to be readily available and accessible to them in case they ever needed me.” She also thinks it is important to take precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, “especially with flu season coming up.”

Academically, being online instead of in-person, “makes it easier to not pay attention,” Thornton said. She, “has to hold [herself] more accountable and make sure [she’s] focusing,” since she doesn’t have the typical classroom environment to help her. 

 Having recordings from the class has helped, and the teachers have been proactive about answering questions and helping her when she needs it, according to Thorton. 

She has been able to get involved with D3TV, DePauw’s student TV station. Thornton is working remotely writing and editing for the channel. She said it does “kind of suck,” knowing that COVID-19 has limited some of her opportunities to get involved with DePauw’s extracurriculars. She sometimes feels like she doesn’t “really know what’s going on”; she feels she’s missing some of the chances to get to know other students since she can’t say, “hey do you want to have breakfast one day? Do you want to study together in the library?” She has her friends from home but worries that when she does come to campus, she “won’t know anybody.” 

A first-year living on campus, Erik Perez believes that being at the school provides a better study environment for him. He says that having a productive study environment was one of the factors he considered over the summer while making his decision to stay remote or be in-person.  He knew it would be easier for him to focus and complete his coursework. He also believes that the first semester of freshman year is “one of the most important transitions” and wanted to be able to “build connections with [his] peers.”

He says that if he “were at home, [he] would be distracted easily.” Being on-campus has allowed him to “experience the college environment,” and gives him time and freedom to do school work. Perez has gotten involved in activities like ultimate frisbee, which he is pleased about. He’s also had opportunities to do community service with a local church group, and says “it’s amazing to be a part of that.” He feels DePauw is taking proper precautions and handling the risk of COVID-19 on campus well. 

Joanna Berry, a junior, is on campus because she is a residence assistant (RA), so her decision was “contingent on the university.” Although living on campus hasn’t affected her academics, she does say that she misses having the library as a study space. She said the pandemic has made interacting with other students “a little more complicated,” since many of her friends are upperclassmen and living off-campus. So far, campus life under the circumstances has met her expectations, but she “was surprised at the decision not to use Longden and Bishop Roberts Halls,” for housing this semester. She thinks it’s good that everyone gets to have single rooms in case they need to isolate. 

She also feels that “being in an academic setting does more for [her] mentality than [she] expected,” in terms of her school work and compared it to how “weird” it was to do classes remotely when everyone was sent home for the semester last spring.  

 As of Sept. 27, DePauw has had 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students living on campus. 66 students have been put in quarantine and 10 in isolation.