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Between financial hardships and COVID-19 restrictions move-in day offers potential challenges for students

Cindy Flores poses outside James C. Armstrong & O.C. Armstrong Hall. Flores moved into O.C. Hall after a four-hour drive up from Houston with her mom, Maria, and her two brothers, Isabel and Giovanny. Photo by Hannah Onder

From the perspective of a returning, first-generation college sophomore:

Sophomore exercise science major Cindy Flores’s most memorable part of her move-in day experience for fall 2020 was receiving a room grant before even moving in.

“I cried,” Flores said. “I cried like crazy. It was thanks to Carsen (Dinger, assistant director of Residence Life) and Eugene (Frier, executive director of esports and recreation) [that I was able to come back], and I feel like I’m in debt to them. COVID really did affect my financial situation. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pay off the room and part of my tuition, but luckily I was able to get a room grant and come back here.”

Financial strain wasn’t the only effect of COVID-19 on Texas Wesleyan University residents. COVID-19 regulations also affected the social aspect of moving in and living in the dorms.

From the perspective of an incoming freshman:

“My move-in day was a little different than what I expected,” freshmen finance major Quentin Barclay wrote in an email. “I could only have one other person with me when I was moving in. It was weird because when my sister moved into college about six years ago, she had everybody in her room helping her move.”

Barclay was also disappointed that minimal to no visitors were allowed in the dorm rooms due to COVID-19 regulations.

“I don’t like that particular rule because it affects the social interactions we usually have as well as how many times we can hang with people,” Barclay wrote. “For me, I barely know anybody, and since I can’t interact with everyone like I want to, it will be hard to meet a lot of people naturally.”

Quentin Barclay plays on his Nintendo Switch in his dorm room. Barclay lives on campus because he is an athlete and he wanted to experience dorm life and establish his independence. Photo contributed by Quentin Barclay

From the continued perspective of a returning, first-generation college sophomore:

While Flores was happy to move into James C. Armstrong & OC. Armstrong Hall and find her friend Angela Castillo as her neighbor, she’ll still miss having a roommate.

“Last year, I did have a roommate (Elaina Audette), and it was really fun,” Flores said. “I got to experience sharing a room with somebody that wasn’t my sister, and it was nice to have somebody to talk to. Now with COVID, it’s really just you on your own. It sucks that you don’t have a roommate there [for support], but it will be better for everyone.”

From the perspective of a first-time RA:

Stella Russell Hall RA Jakyron Joseph said he was happy to see the resident’s taking the coronavirus seriously when he assisted with checking them in.

“I can definitely say that there were less people around [during move-in],” Joseph, a senior finance major, said. “A lot of people had masks on and were cautious of what they touched, and they had plenty more cleaning supplies.”

Joseph said he believes making personal relationships during the COVID-19 regulations will probably be more challenging this semester.

“Events and meetings [with residents] are all virtual,” Joseph said. “As far as that, personal relationship building is going to be more difficult to establish over a camera and microphone.”

Joseph said he’s determined to make the best out of his experience as an RA despite the circumstances.

“I accepted the position before the pandemic hit so hard in the United States,” Joseph said. “I wasn’t just going to decline it after the opportunity was awarded to me. I stuck through it, and now, I’m here sticking through it, trying to still develop those skills I wanted before the pandemic.”

Cindy Flores poses in her dorm room in James C. Armstrong & O.C. Armstrong Hall. Flores’s mom, Maria, and her older brother, Isabel, took turns assisting her with moving in for the fall 2020 semester. Photo by Hannah Onder
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Between financial hardships and COVID-19 restrictions move-in day offers potential challenges for students