by Leah Dwyer
About a full year ago students were castaway off of the Purchase College campus; now that they're back, how are they feeling?
Students have been invited back on to the Purchase campus for certain reasons, the most popular seeming to be for sports or in-person classes. No matter the reason for return, the campus atmosphere and student mood have been impacted by the pandemic.
Senior communications student, Tighe Jorgensen, compared the difference between this semester and pre-pandemic Purchase.
“The atmosphere has changed because the freedom everyone had was taken away,” he said. “We’re restricted to being in our rooms with just one other roommate which isn’t ideal but better than nothing.”
Shannon Grounds and Sara Mecozzi are both freshmen painting and drawing majors. The two of them compared this semester to their fall semester on campus.
“[Regulations] have been heightened because of the new COVID strains that have come out this term,” Grounds said. “So, there are a lot of regulations that keep students from interacting with one another, it’s less in person.”
Mecozzi said, “I feel like everyone’s mood has gone down because we now have low expectations.”
The PBS article, How the Pandemic is Impacting College Students’ Mental Health cites the CDC as saying, “three out of four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 reported poor mental health tied to the pandemic.”
“The isolation definitely has negatively affected my mood and mental health,” Grounds says.
A Plos One research article from January 7, Psychological Impacts from COVID-19 Among
University Students: Risk Factors Across Seven States in the United States, conducted online questionnaires across about 2,500 people in seven U.S. universities.
The study concluded that: “students who were women, were non-Hispanic Asian, in fair/poor health, of below-average relative family income, or who knew someone infected with COVID-19 experienced higher levels of psychological impact.”
For the freshmen, the main reason for low morale was the issue of isolation and difficulty making friends.
“[The pandemic] has made it harder to interact with others as well as make new associates or friends,” said Grounds. “It’s definitely more isolating in trying to have some form of relationship with other people on campus.”
Grounds said that between COVID regulations and online classes, isolation is a major thing in their life.
For Mecozzi, the isolation from peers has been severe. She said if she wasn’t required to be on campus for her major, she would be home.
“It has been hard making friends, so I would’ve rather have stayed at home with my high school friends,” she said.
Jorgensen is on campus to try to enjoy his last semester and to be able to play baseball for Purchase one last time.
Having come into the semester already with friends on campus, Jorgensen was at an advantage to the two freshmen. However, the feelings of disconnect persist.
“The athletic department does a good job running operations but I feel like there’s not the biggest connection between players and the department as a whole,” he said. “They could maybe post more social media of players, acknowledge more people for certain things and, try to get to know the players better.”
Grounds was quick to compliment the school in their efforts to aid the feelings of isolation.
“The RAs are trying to be more interactive with our peers,” they said. “They are trying to do a positive thing that is safe for everybody.”
Mecozzi was not as kind in regards to the school’s efforts to remain safe while balancing social activity.
“The school shouldn’t try to isolate us from each other,” she said. “Students are angry about how we can’t even hangout in each other’s rooms without the risk of getting in trouble.”
Jorgensen’s opinion mirrored Mecozzi’s, showing frustration around the severe and strict regulations.
When asked what he felt was important to note he said, “The lack of things people can do and how stupid it is,” he said. “For example, being allowed to be in your apartment or dorm with only your roommate even if you play sports with other people.”
When asked what they thought the school could do to improve student morale, Grounds suggested making social activities more readily available, as they had heard about clubs online, but hadn’t seen any information on it.
Jorgensen wants to see improvements made in the fitness center. He believes that allowing students to work out uninterrupted, instead of kicking them out for the routine cleaning every 45 minutes, would improve their mood.
Mecozzi, on the other hand, showed quite a bit of frustration. “I don’t even know anymore I’m so over this."
Bright times still lie ahead. Grounds and Jorgensen both had more than just bad things to say.
“The pandemic has taught me a lot about myself and life,” Jorgensen said. “It has made me not take anything for granted and enjoy every moment I have each day.”
“Since the weather has gotten better and we’re able to stand outside and talk to our peers it’s definitely brightened the mood and got us more focused,” said Grounds.