One day of synchronous/asynchronous, remote/on-campus/working from home, pandemic college done, the rest of the fall semester to go.
For a university built around its nearly 100% residential campus, a semester where students are learning and living from around the world yields a dramatically different DePauw experience for everyone involved.
The shift is due to DePauw’s decision to allow a limited number of residents back on campus to ensure the safety of it’s students, faculty, staff, and community members while working through challenges of COVID-19.
While first-years and sophomores were granted housing priority, many upperclassmen, who’s 300 and 400 level classes were shifted to remote instruction by default, are working from home or sharing apartments in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
Castle of Solitude
Ashley Carrasquillo, a sophomore living at DePauw this fall, is concerned yet hopeful about residing on campus. While she is optimistic about seeing her friends and being involved in student organizations, she is apprehensive about DePauw’s handling of pandemic guidelines and ways the campus life will have to adapt.
“I hope a lot of programs are able to run as efficiently as possible because I know they’re a big part of what unites DePauw’s community,” Carrasquillo said.
While some of Carrasquillo’s worries for this semester include new pandemic guidelines, her biggest concern regards the mental health of the student body. She asks, “How will I be supported? Will I be able to handle the mental strain of being on campus in the middle of a pandemic?”
Carrasquillo points out that although students living on campus will be part of a community, the guidelines put in place to protect students from the pandemic, such as restricted access to other residential buildings and take-out Hoover, may lead to feelings of isolation.
Overall, campus will just be emptier. In order to accommodate social distancing most social and academic spaces on campus will only hold about one-third of their normal capacity. For example, Watson Forum, a small auditorium space in Pulliam Center for Contemporary media will only seat 12.
According to Stevie Baker-Watson, the vice president for campus wellness, DePauw is taking a phased open approach and hopes to open up more things like Welch fitness Center after the first two weeks. But for now she encourages small social bubbles and outdoor activities.
In terms of housing, students are living in ways and places they have never before. Students have been assigned based on their activities and types of risk, for example, many first-year athletes are living in Mason Hall and School of Music students are in Humbert with designated practice rooms in the residences hall.
After discovering that all of her courses were offered remotely, junior Carly Shields knew that living from home would be the best option for her. In addition to being a way to save money and spend more time with her family, Shields sees this as an opportunity for safety and stability during the time of a global pandemic.
Shields said, “As much as I’m going to miss my friends, I know that most of them aren’t even on campus this semester either, which keeps me from feeling like I’m missing out. I think it’s smart to not go back because it will be tempting for students to disregard the rules and guidelines.”
Even if she was given the option to return, she would feel uncomfortable living with such a large group of people.
“I look at this as an opportunity to help the situation. By limiting campus exposure, we can increase our chances to return as normal in the spring semester,” Shields said.
DePauw Away From DePauw
While many upperclassmen chose to live at home like Carly, others chose to group together and share apartments in Greencastle and the surrounding areas. For students living in apartments, they are able to preserve a small piece of their DePauw community, as many live in close proximity to each other in Indianapolis.
After word of limited campus housing and remote coursework, Junior Haley Franciosi knew that the best option for her would be to lease an apartment with her friends.
“I want to make college as normal as possible this semester,” Franciosi said.
Franciosi is optimistic about living off campus this semester. She looks at it as a unique opportunity to see what life will be like after graduating college.
“It was my first choice when DePauw announced their fall plans. I had no desire to be on campus because I knew this semester would be so different,” she said.
Even though she predicts combining her education with an apartment lifestyle will come with unique challenges, she believes that living with other DePauw students will push her and give her the motivation to be her best in her courses, more so than being alone at home.
With students spread throughout the world for fall of 2020, it will be interesting to see how the DePauw community adapts to the times. When given the unique challenges we are presented with this year, students are finding unique solutions to make their learning experience as optimal as possible.