By Gabriella Cavaleri, Staff Writer
Being an Resident Assistant (RA) requires meeting residents and building a community, but in the times of COVID-19 this has become increasingly difficult. Despite the social limitations, the RA’s of Riggs hall are finding ways to make this semester fun yet safe.
Sophomore biology major Madison Eppers is experiencing her first year being an RA, and this year didn’t go quite as she expected.
“I wanted to have in-person self-care nights with coloring, movies, snacks, pajamas, and face masks. I can still probably do that on zoom, but it’s definitely not the same,” Eppers said.
Eppers was surprised by the workload that being an RA during a pandemic entailed.
“Being an RA during a pandemic is definitely a lot more work than I thought it would be but it’s been super rewarding so far. These challenges inspired RAs to step up to the plate to make living on campus safer and more fun despite being virtual,” she said. “Currently, I’m trying to figure out some good self-care programming to help residents relax and get to know each other and me a bit more.”
Due to covid restrictions, student engagement is once again limited to virtual engagement. However, the responsibilities of the RA’s remain the same.
“Every semester, regardless of covid, RAs have to have RA programs. These programs are ways to get students involved and connected by building a community in the residence halls,” junior physical and health education major Jack Tomlinson said. “Since last semester I have been co-hosting the ‘Beyond the Residence Halls Podcast’ alongside RA Nick and now RA Shaun. Here, we talk about campus life both inside and outside the residence halls. Hopefully, providing the Shark Nation with a bit of love and entertainment.”
The “Beyond the Residence Halls Podcast” has one more episode in the works, which is planned to release on Wednesday, April 14. These episodes can be found on the LIU Promise Instagram page @PostLiuPromise.
In addition to the podcast, Riggs hall RA’s are introducing other safe yet engaging activities. A favorite among students is the Riggs Hall Playlist introduced by RA Matthew Sporrer. Here, every resident can pin a song suggestion to a board and the songs were made into a collaborative playlist. Additionally, RA Nick introduces a new question of the week every Monday, prompting a resident vote.
Danielle Burnman, junior musical theatre major and Riggs Hall resident, doesn’t find the student engagement this semester to be too different from other years on campus.
“The only thing that’s different about this year is that you can’t be in the lounges,” Burnman said. “I think once Covid is better and we are allowed to gather and go into friend’s dorm rooms [student involvement] will improve, but until then we just have to stay away from each other to stay safe.”
Sophomore Theatre Arts major, Saffron Cooper, believes student involvement has improved since the fall semester. With the chaos of this year, she acknowledges the importance of student activities, but also understands why limitations are in place.
“Being able to have in-person classes with the delayed start of the term has helped with involvement, but it comes at the cost of eliminating breaks entirely, creating a general sense of exhaustion and burnout among the student body,” Cooper said. “Personally, I want more relaxation and rest though I think for other people, de-stressing might manifest in other ways such as activities and engagement.”
Cooper believes that despite the limitations, students can still enjoy themselves throughout the semester.
“At the end of the day, though it isn’t ideal, there are things to be prioritized by the administration and university above events and engagement. Though these aspects of the college experience are crucial for the mental and emotional wellness of students, our physical health is the most important,” she said. “I think we all can improve and continue our commitment to following covid guidelines, staying socially distant, wearing masks and having respect for the campus community. That is the only way we can work towards a better future.”