Boston University in the Time of COVID by Amanda Slutzky

Journal Entry #1

August 24, 2020

Move in Weekend. I was honestly shocked that it is still happening. Although many schools decided to not let anyone back on campus this semester, Boston University is allowing back any student that wants to, with some guidelines of course. Previous to even entering the state, I had to fill out the Massachusetts travel form and provide a negative Covid test. Seemed simple enough. I will also be tested 2 times a week for the foreseeable future, and we are encouraged to quarantine until we receive 3 negative tests. All students must also complete a survey every morning to report any symptoms they might be having. Basically, on the surface, BU is doing everything right. We’ll see if that continues to be the case as more students return to campus.

Although I know there is a ton of money being poured into testing centers and accommodations, I spent the entirety of the 2 day drive wondering if all the work will even be worth it. What if I’m boxing up all my possessions, stuffing them into my car, and then unpacking and decorating for nothing? How dumb will I look if I’m forced to repack my dorm in a few weeks when there’s an outbreak? I did try to cut back on the makeup and clothes and random little decorations in case I do have to leave campus in a hurry, but the tiny optimistic part of me didn’t want to leave anything important in the slight chance that I will be here until December.

Stepping out of my car, I instantly felt a change. I’m not sure what it is about the atmosphere of a college campus, but even with no students (the campus resembles a ghost town), I almost felt a switch turn on. Freedom. Independence. The ability to sit outside, either undisturbed or with a group of friends, basically everything that was taken away by the pandemic.

I moved in on the first day possible, at the start of the 2 week move-in period, for this exact reason. I’m a pretty realistic person. I know the chances of being sent home are probably greater than not, so I wanted to have as much time here as possible. Is that selfish? Perhaps. Irresponsible? Maybe. But who can blame me? I’m not doing anything to risk the safety of others. Yes, we have responsibilities as students to not go to parties, to not have any guests in our rooms, and to obey social distancing rules, but beyond that, it’s kind of (unfortunately) out of our hands. Our fates, as well as those of professors and staff, are in the hands of the administration. They’re the ones who choose how much PPE to supply, how much information to give, and how well they communicate. The list of their responsibilities goes on, including aspects that I’m not even aware of.

Since there are relatively few students back and nothing is too crowded, I haven’t had any serious concerns yet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the only person here, but it’s jarring to walk into the dining hall with six other people there. Speaking of which, I actually can’t complain about the dining hall. It might be the one change that I like. Everything is now in to- go boxes, so I can go back to my room or sit outside instead of having to stay until I’m finished eating. Although the amount of plastic being used might be a cause for concern, I’m sure it is not extremely high on anyone's list of worries right now. Another upside (or hack?) I've realized is I can grab something for the next day’s lunch as I pick up dinner. It’s the little things.

My first morning alone, and I’m truly back in the rhythm. I’m lucky enough to have my own bathroom and small fridge, so I can honestly isolate myself pretty easily. I see some cardboard boxes outside my window, suggesting that more students are arriving on campus today.

First weekend is done. Hopefully there will be many more to follow.

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