By Jac St. Jean
Every junior or senior last semester could tell you how they felt on March 19. I was there that Thursday night. The second half of the townhouse backyards were populated with juniors and seniors for what would be the last time for quite a while.
Residents gathered as senior athletes stood on the upper level, and their colleagues commemorated them for their hard work and accomplishments they achieved the past four years at Springfield College.
While it was sorrowful, and it felt like the earth stood still, it was a beautiful sight. Now, the townhouse backyards are almost untouched, and lacking the life they used to on the weekends. But the “college experience” has not been eliminated at Springfield.
One witness of the scene last spring was Ryan Gray, a senior exercise science major, and newly named co-captain of the wrestling team for the 2020-2021 season. “It’s always been a really good controlled environment of the school,” Gray said. “We like the flexibility of being able to use what we have at our disposal.”
Gray thought of the scene as an ‘indescribable’ one. “We were really looking forward to coming back in two weeks, but at the same time a lot of us knew that wasn’t going to be the case necessarily. They did a big ‘senior night’ back there for all the athletes which was a really sad but special thing to watch… seeing how people were handling it was really interesting.”
Many students returning to the college were unsure if the so-called college experience was going to be eliminated with the COVID-19 era taking full control of the school year, but after just the first couple of weekends, and more recently the new inclusion of rules and regulations implemented by Residence Life, Springfield College is maintaining the weekend atmosphere in a safe and fun environment.
“I think that the Townhouse residents have gotten a lot closer than the ones last year,” Gray said. “Now that we’re kind of isolated in our little island here, we’ve gotten to know our neighbors really well… I don’t think people have any less desire to still get to know each other and have a lot of fun.”
Res Life has put guest limitations on all dorm buildings, only allotting 3 guests in each townhouse. However, those guests are not allowed in the backyards, and they can only congregate within the house, or out on the Senior Green.
Yet the elimination of mass amounts of students partying in the backyards has not stopped students from having a good time.
“It goes without saying that everybody at this school would love to have the traditional Springfield College experience,” Gray said. “After all it is ‘spirit, mind and body’ and I think ‘spirit’ can be taken in more ways than one.”
The additions of the tents in the front of Cheney, and the encouragement of using the Senior Green and many other greens on campus has helped keep the atmosphere of the college alive and well.
“Having the freedom to have a couple people at a time over and visiting is making it so that we’re not totally deprived of each other. You’ve got to get creative in these kinds of situations, but I don’t think there’s a group better suited for it than the Springfield College students,” Gray said.
While the student population is adjusting to the new rules and regulations of guest limitations and mask mandates, a sub-population of the students is also having to change their habits and adjust to enforcing the newly added protocols of the campus.
Resident assistants are now important more than ever, as they stand on the front lines between the students and administration. A second-year RA in the Senior Suites, senior Tif Kuba, has first-hand experience on the direct changes of the new college experience at Springfield.
“There’s definitely been a shift in priorities,” Kuba said. “In previous years, we had a very large focus on the partying and making sure that students weren’t getting too intoxicated or anything like that; this year our focus is making sure that students are wearing their masks when they’re supposed to be… they’re respectful of others… they’re following guest policies.”
Kuba agrees, as Gray previously stated, that the positive of the new regulations is the intimate gatherings and bonds that students have created.
In such an unpredictable and difficult time at Springfield, Kuba underlines the importance of every student on campus, and the impact that each one can make on the life of Springfield College.
“In more respects than just COVID, every single person on this campus matters,” Kuba said. “Without one person, it does really change the whole aura.”
We can all attest to this claim. A handful of students and faculty alike have chosen to work remotely, or commute, or not come back to campus at all. Everyone at Springfield College has a choice, and a voice to change the direction of our sails on our path into the future in every aspect of this institution.
While the future is uncertain, our current actions are going to impact where we go next as a whole.
Photo Courtesy of Danny Priest