Isolation sinks in as students approach midterms


Daily file photo by Haley Fuller

Norris University Center. Though usually packed during midterms, the quiet atmosphere of Norris this fall promotes distanced studying opportunities for students on campus.

Julia Karten, Reporter

Every midterm season, students pack coffee shops and study rooms throughout campus, collaborating with friends on assignments and discussing topics for classes. But this year, Fall Quarter looks a little different.

Medill sophomore Sara Frank, who lives off campus in Evanston, remembers exploring the city and campus last year, trying different coffee shops, libraries and lounges to boost productivity. Frank’s “dynamic” strategy helped her focus on her work, she said.

Now, without access to on-campus facilities, Frank is confined to the desk of her one-bedroom apartment, which she shares with a roommate.

“If I felt more comfortable sitting in a coffee shop, I would do that, but I don’t,” Frank said. “I would really just love to sit in Deering. I miss it a lot.”

Frank said she wishes she could access on-campus facilities to move out of her apartment’s isolation. She said she longs for the sense of normalcy that will come if sophomores have access to campus in the near future.

Even on campus, students say they need to get creative to find places to study. SESP senior John Choi, who currently lives in Allison Hall, said he too misses the library — something he said he never thought he would say.

Now, Choi said he takes advantage of the emptiness on campus, studying in places like Norris University Center that he previously found too loud.

“Normally, I wouldn’t be able to study there,” Choi said. “It’s a lot quieter because there just aren’t as many people. I can actually go and find a spot, which is nice.”

Other students have also noticed the newly quiet atmosphere of Norris. Weinberg and Bienen junior Corinne Watters, a resident assistant in Allison Hall, said she finds studying peaceful in the formerly bustling University Center. Watters said with fewer students, she also doesn’t find it difficult to practice social distancing within Norris.

But the distancing comes at a price. Watters said she believes the shortage of open study spots on campus — especially options to sit socially distanced with someone else — makes the campus feel more isolated.

Watters said she thinks it’s especially challenging for underclassmen living on campus to meet people and find a community. With the social distancing requirements, she said she believes those students, in particular, could have a difficult transition adjusting to campus while being safe and following COVID-19 guidelines.

“You can still go to the library, but you have to make reservations and you can only study by yourself,” she said. “There are no small groups allowed, which is kind of sad.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @julia_karten

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