If there is one feeling that is mutual between each and every person involved in the Springfield College community, it is the emphasis on finishing the spring 2021 semester here on Alden Street. It has been almost two full trips around the sun since a spring semester has been fully completed in-person at Springfield College.
With a little more than a month and a half until the second week of May, marking the end of this incomparable and dissimilar school year, resident assistants and other faculty members are applauding at the student’s determination to make it through this semester with no major setbacks.
Robert Yanez, Director of Housing and Residence Life at Springfield College, understands the difficulties that students are facing and appreciates the patience and willingness to abide and obey the current policies.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all of our students for their continued support in following our policies,” Yanez said. “I believe that the vast majority of our students care for their community and continue to follow (the SC COVID-19 guidelines) so we can remain on campus for the full 15-weeks of the spring semester together.”
Considering the continuous trend of decreasing positive tests (there was only one student residing on campus to test positive last week), and considering the weather warming up as the calendar flips to April, there has been much speculation on whether or not certain guidelines would be modified to provide more leeway for students on campus.
“Our Springfield College leadership closely monitors both CDC and state guidelines,” Yanez began. “Any changes made will be at the direction of the President’s Leadership Team (PLT). If the PLT moves to change regulations, we will work with Community Standards and inform students of any changes.”
It seems unlikely that any changes will be made to the guidelines, due to the fact that what is currently in place has been working tremendously over the last few weeks.
Townhouse resident assistant Jacques St. Jean and his fellow RA’s ran into a recent issue, as there was a large gathering in one of the townhouses two weekends ago. St. Jean admitted it was an extremely difficult situation, as some of his close friends and fellow student-athletes were a part of the gathering.
“There was an incident (two weekends ago) where there were 18 people written up for a large party gathering,” said St. Jean. “I was on duty that night and had to write each person up, along with my fellow RA and (Community Director) who were also on duty. It was really unfortunate and put me in a tough situation because they were my residents and people that I know.”
The consequences for something as serious as this incident can include loss of housing, removal from co-curricular activities for two weeks, a reflection paper, a fine, and/or a suspension from Springfield College.
Senior resident assistant in International Hall, Willow Mennone, reiterated what the exact expectations are for students, so consequences like these will not have to come into play.
“The ultimate goal is to maintain social distancing while wearing a mask at all times,” Mennone stated. “Everyone is to continue following the guest policy, continue to get tested weekly when their test time is, and limit their off-campus interactions so we can keep the Springfield College bubble safe.”
For a senior like Mennone, spending her last semester on campus is a must, as this is her last chance to walk through the Springfield College campus. Mennone understands that at the end of the day, the COVID-19 pandemic can still work its way through the campus, even with students following the guidelines closely.
She simply wants all members of the Springfield community to do everything in their power to prevent that, for the sake of her and her graduating class.
Resident assistants not only ensure the safety and well-being of the members of their floor, they also are there to build a strong connection with each other, and provide a sense of reassurance for their residents when needed. Due to the unconventional nature of this year, it has been rather difficult to do so, according to Gulick Hall resident assistant Kevin Velazquez-Rivera.
“I think it’s been a really tough year for every RA,” declared Velazquez-Rivera. “A lot of freshmen residents and RAs don’t have the strong communication and relationship that they should have, because they think we are just out to get them in trouble all the time.”
Although it has been a burden for students to obey each policy, and although it may be about that time where following these rules are seemingly not in students’ best interest, it is adamant that the Springfield College community perseveres through the challenges this year has provided. Students have pushed to make it to week nine, and it is now time to buckle down and surge through the last six weeks both safely and healthily.
Photo: Danny Priest