With only 32 percent of students on campus now, the atmosphere this semester is very different. In August 2019, there were about 650 students on campus. There are now about 450, including Community Assistants (CA).
Melissa Paravate is a junior CA at Robertshaw Hall who mainly works with freshmen. She shared her experience working as a CA so far this semester.
“There are a lot less people walking around. You could go a few hours sitting outside of McKenna and only see one or two people walking, but before there would always be people everywhere,” she said. “Everyone is staying inside because they have online classes and don’t want to have to wear their masks.”
As a CA, she holds hall meetings where her group stays in touch with one another. This ensures everyone is handling their school work and responsibilities well.
“Typically, students disperse into their halls again once the meetings are over, but because everyone is craving social interaction, they stay to talk and meet one another,” Paravate said. “This has been a fun surprise and change of events.”
She noticed the pros and cons of being on campus seem to balance each other out for students she’s worked with.
“While you’re not experiencing much interaction between classmates, you are on campus and involved with lots of clubs, programs, and events. While it may be difficult to be on the computer all day long, it’s nice to be in your own desk or bed and quickly log on when you’re ready,” Paravate said.
Troy Ross, director of Housing and Residence Life, as well as Brian Root, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, agreed that students on campus are staying respectful of others and the safety precautions.
“I think we’ve been handling it as well as we could have expected. There have been a lot of challenges that have come up that our staff has responded well with. This is definitely a unique year,” Ross said.
Root agreed the campus community has handled it well despite the differences.
“I think our students want to be social beings as they naturally are, but there are a lot of limitations this year,” Root said. “Everyone is taking classes virtually, even students on campus. There’s not a lot of social events because of safety precautions. You can feel the difference and you can see the difference.”
Additionally, this will be the first semester Pitt-Greensburg is allowing alcohol on campus. There are regulations and limitations to this change. These limitations are in the student code of conduct and include, but are not limited to, drinking while underage, hazing (persuading, aggressively or not, others to drink), or failing to summon emergency assistance for a student experiencing an emergency due to alcohol or drug use.
In addition to following all other rules, students should not gather to drink or share drinks.
“My hope is that regardless if a student decides to drink, they are still following the social precautions,” Ross said. “Drinking should not be a reason to forget all the things we are asking students to do.”
As a CA, Paravate enforces these rules, which can be difficult.
“It’s difficult to be an enforcer for others because it’s easier to stay in your dorm and complete everything on your computer, not having to worry about a mask or social distancing,” she said. “But, it’s very important. We must remind ourselves and others of all safety guidelines.”
Ross and Root agree that it’s worth keeping the campus open, because there are many reasons why students have chosen to stay on campus.
“For some students, it’s not feasible for them to learn virtually. They may not have the resources they need,” Root said. “They may not have the internet or a support system to be a student.”
Root hopes the campus can provide a supportive environment to help students learn.
“We noticed a lot of students in the last semester during the quick transition really struggled. I can’t tell you how many students I talked to this semester who have told me ‘yea, all my classes are online, but I need to be here; I prefer to be here,’” he said.
Ross believes keeping campus open will help students get the college experience they wanted.
“As a former Pitt-Greensburg student and current staff member for 20 years, I think the value of Pitt education doesn’t end at the classroom. Being on campus and being able to interact with your fellow students, attending events, and joining clubs is part of the college experience,” Ross said.