When Brianna Calvin moved onto campus in August of last year as a first-year biology major, she didn’t know what to expect.
Because of COVID-19 and the de-densification of campus, many first-year students and upperclassmen alike believed that being on campus would instead be lonely and isolating.
Regardless, Calvin thought that living in a residence hall would be her best chance at getting as close to the “typical” college experience as possible. And she was right.
“I met a lot of amazing new people while living on campus, and it was great to be within walking distance of all my classes, the library, the bookstore, and other campus resources.”
After many students spent their summers quarantined at home, they were eager to come back to campus to gain some independence and be around their peers, even if six feet apart.
For other students, their home life wasn’t safe or wasn’t conducive for virtual learning, so campus was a place for them to thrive.
“It was very important for us to figure out a way to bring back as many students who wanted to come back to campus as possible, so we figured out how to make residence halls a safe, comfortable, and fun environment, even with the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Theresa McKire, assistant director for student leadership, recruitment, and development.
UNCG offers a variety of housing options, from traditional to apartment-style, in more than two dozen residence halls that range from historic to brand-new. Residence halls have remained open throughout the pandemic with very limited spread of COVID-19, and because of the de-densified campus, students have had the flexibility to pick their preferred living situation – either in a single room or with a roommate.
While Housing & Residence Life awaits further guidance from the University and the CDC, staff have already begun planning virtual and safe, in-person programming for the fall semester.
And for this upcoming academic year, UNCG is also offering new and returning undergraduate and graduate students $1,500 toward the cost of campus housing.
“I want students coming to campus in the fall to know that making UNCG your home is still an option for you,” said McKire. “We are here to keep you safe, engaged, and having fun while forming connections that will last a lifetime.”
This “culture of care” environment was created and maintained not only by the students in residence halls doing their part, but also by the resident advisors (RA). Many students, especially those in their first year of college, had a lot of questions and needed the support of RAs this year more than ever.
Inspired by her resident advisor in North Spencer Residence Hall, Calvin decided to join the Residence Hall Council herself. Next year, she will be an RA in Spartan Village.
Rising senior Yahira Robinson served as an RA in North Spencer, and she made it a point to not only host a variety of virtual events, but also safe, social-distanced in-person events to engage students with “Zoom burnout.”
Virtual events included Netflix movie nights, caricature drawings, and advising nights. Housing & Residence Life also brought in campus partners like the Counseling Center and UNCG Police to connect students with campus resources.
“One great aspect of the virtual events was that residents could hop in and out or be logged in while studying or cleaning their room,” said Robinson. “They didn’t have to miss the whole event if they couldn’t be there in person.”
Robinson also hosted a Spencer Fall Festival that took place in different common areas throughout the residence hall with activities like pumpkin painting, crafting, karaoke, and a photo booth.
RAs like Robinson also regularly met with their residents either in person or virtually to check in and answer questions and provide any support.
“I think their experience was just an altered normal. So many things being virtual was a drastic change, but I think for them, living on campus during this time was more beneficial because they were able to connect with other residents and students who were going through the same thing. It brought them closer together, and they didn’t have to feel like they were going through it alone.”
Stay tuned for more information on move-in and updated guidelines.
Watch testimonials from more students and see photos of last summer’s “Stop, Drop, and Roll” move-in below.
Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Video courtesy of Housing & Residence Life