By Rebekah Crozier
Students living on campus received an exciting announcement at the beginning of last week. Residence Life sent an email to the student body with updated visitation guidelines that will allow for more community and fellowship amongst students who live on campus.
In past years, there have been very few restrictions on visitation in residence halls. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Residence Life was forced to change these rules to protect students and reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus. Students were only allowed to enter their own dorm rooms this year, a change that disappointed the student body.
“It was frustrating when I heard, but I wasn’t surprised,” sophomore Alex Dennison said.
Although necessary for preventing the spread of COVID-19, these rules also prevented students from being able to spend time with their friends in a relaxed environment. It has been especially hard for new freshmen on campus who do not know what campus life was like pre-COVID.
“It was kind of hard at first, at the beginning of last semester, to meet people. I feel like the masks and the rules put a damper on everything and it made everyone a lot more isolated,” freshman McKenzie Pilch said.
Last Monday, the Residence Life email announced an update in these visitation guidelines. According to the email, the changes are being made due to the recent decline in positive COVID-19 cases and following the careful consideration of Residence Life staff members. Students will now be permitted to enter dorm rooms that are not their own. However, they must wear face coverings the entire time and keep the number of people in each room to a maximum of four. Students are still only allowed to enter their own residence halls, a rule that has not changed since the beginning of the school year.
“I think the new guidelines are a good thing, because they will allow me to spend more time with my friends in an environment where I feel secure, and it will be good for building community,” freshman Leah Porch said.
Lauren Taylor, the Assistant Vice President for Campus and Residential Life, said she believes that COVID-19 numbers on campus will not increase if residents continue to follow the visitation guidelines. She reminds students that wearing a face covering and practicing physical distancing is still important, whether inside or outside residence halls.
“Throughout the remainder of the semester, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and exposures on-campus and will make changes to the visitation guidelines as appropriate,” Taylor said.
Samford students and faculty are hopeful that the number of COVID-19 cases on campus will continue to decline, allowing for visitation in residence halls to return to normal as much as possible.