As many return to campus, students who stayed home feel disconnected


Daily file illustration by Catherine Buchaniec

While many freshmen moved on-campus for the first time this Winter, others opted to stay at home.

Hannah Feuer, Reporter

While most students were moving to Evanston for Winter Quarter, Weinberg freshman Shray Vaidya was hitting “mute” on the Class of 2024 GroupMe from his hometown of Fremont, California.

In the GroupMe, students were texting about how excited they were to finally move on campus. For Vaidya, who opted to stay home because of rising COVID-19 infection rates across the country, the messages were “really hard” to see.

During Fall Quarter, only underclassmen who received exceptions were allowed to live on-campus. It was a difficult way to start college, but made easier by the fact that most underclassmen were going through the experience together, Vaidya said.

Now, he said the larger number of students on campus for Winter Quarter has left those like him — who chose to remain at home — feeling even more disconnected from the University.

“This quarter it feels like students not on campus are more of an afterthought,” Vaidya said.

Like Vaidya, Weinberg freshman Andie Tipton said she didn’t feel safe going to campus. Even though being at home feels like “a continuation of high school,” Tipton said she made the right decision.

“I’ve heard a couple stories of people (on campus) breaking the rules already,” Tipton said. “I just wouldn’t want to be around those people. It’s a privilege to get to be on campus during (the pandemic), and they’re abusing it.”

Some international students who chose to stay home face additional challenges staying connected to campus. McCormick sophomore Yvan Chu, who said he opted to stay in Taiwan for Winter Quarter for financial reasons, now has to navigate a 14-hour time difference.

During Fall Quarter, Chu took all of his classes asynchronously. This quarter, he stays up late to go to class.

“All the clubs and professors make an effort of connecting with students, and I think they’re doing the best they can, but it’s hard to feel very connected over Zoom,” Chu said.

For Vaidya, most of the friends he made virtually Fall Quarter are now on-campus, making it harder to keep in touch. He currently spends time with high school friends who are also studying remotely from home.

“It definitely sucks,” Vaidya said. “It was really hard to have to keep seeing everyone talk about moving into their dorms and getting food to the dining hall while you’re at home.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @hannah_feuer

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