Quarantined students adjust to new routines at 1835 Hinman


Illustration by Hank Yang

Students who test positive for COVID-19 embark on a new life in 1835 Hinman — for 10 days, at least.

Avani Kalra, Reporter

Medill freshman Isabel Harkins was walking to last month’s Fall Organization Fair when her phone rang.

Harkins had just completed a COVID-19 test after feeling under the weather, and the voice on the other end told her she tested positive. She had 30 minutes to report to the front door of 1835 Hinman.

After Harkins took a University-provided car to the building’s front door, a Northwestern quarantine and isolation housing coordinator let her into 1835 Hinman and gave her a key. Harkins said she spent most of her next two weeks alone inside a double dorm room, accompanied by a large box of snacks.

“I wasn’t really allowed to leave, except to go to the bathroom,” Harkins said.

For undergraduate students who test positive for COVID-19, 1835 Hinman becomes home for 10 to 14 days. While quarantine takes place inside standard dorms, life looks completely different, with new neighbors, routines and problems to navigate.

McCormick sophomore Ria D’Souza, who entered quarantine on Sept. 29, said Residential Services did not provide her with many rules. She said NU staff instructed 1835 Hinman residents to wear masks while outside their assigned rooms and stay inside during housekeeping visits. But they were permitted to utilize common areas and interact with others.

D’Souza said she received a daily call from a quarantine and isolation housing coordinator, who asked brief questions about her health and well-being. The call also gives quarantined students the opportunity to share concerns or request toiletries and cleaning supplies, she said.

Hinman residents can fill out a daily survey to obtain recreational items like yoga mats, and two staff members are always “on-duty” to address immediate requests via phone call, according to D’Souza.

Sophomore Aldiery Gonzalez said he was impressed with Hinman’s accommodations and felt comfortable during his stay.

“They have laundry, extra towels, sheets, toiletries — anything that you need,” Gonzalez said.

Despite the resources provided, Harkins said she faced some obstacles at Hinman: she didn’t have hot water for three days.

“The adjustment was kind of hard, knowing who to call when,” she said. “It was a lot of self-advocacy. I couldn’t shower. I called the front desk a few times to try to get that worked out and they were in touch with maintenance. There was a lot of back and forth.”

Gonzalez said the only mental health support he was directly offered during his stay at 1835 Hinman was an email from quarantine staff about Counseling and Psychological Services. Gonzalez, quarantined for 11 days, was permitted to go outdoors once, when the fire alarm went off.

The food service offerings were a highlight for Harkins. Students recieve hot meals twice a day, and have access to a microwave. They also use a dining form each day to request food from any of the usual NU Dining options, and are able to make substitutions or request extra food or snacks. As a gluten-free student, Harkins said she appreciated the flexibility of the ordering process.

Though she said she was anxious to get back into the classroom and her dorm, D’Souza said her time spent watching Netflix and sleeping until noon in 1835 Hinman was almost nostalgic.

“It feels a lot like two years ago, when quarantine first hit,” she said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @avanidkalra

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