Isolation is the new normal for students living on campus at the University of New Mexico. Leaving a dorm room has become a rare occurrence, and UNM is providing limited housing along with a laundry list of new rules and regulations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
All students who wanted to live on campus with housing managed by Residence Life and Student Housing had to sign an “addendum and amendment” alongside their regular dorm lease. This legal document laid out some new rules, which include a mask requirement when outside of a personal room, only one guest at a time in personal rooms, no guests that live outside of the dorm building and only one person in an elevator at a time.
UNM freshman Gabriela Di Pomazio recently took the Daily Lobo through her experience living on campus.
Di Pomazio said she feels safe “as long as people continue to wear masks and social distancing.” Even so, she wishes that COVID-19 testing was required for everyone in the dorms.
While the rules and regulations add stress, Di Pomazio thinks they are necessary and feels that the dorms are doing enough in terms of safety.
“I feel pretty safe, especially since I don't have a roommate and won't be exposed to anyone unless I expose myself on my own, which I don't plan on doing,” Di Pomazio said.
Di Pomazio knew about the new rules dictated by the pandemic beforehand but still decided to live in the dorms so she could be close to her work-study job and campus in general. Her family also lives nearby.
“(UNM) was close to where I live. I'm from New Mexico originally, and most of my family went here too,” Di Pomazio said.
Di Pomazio chose to live in Coronado Hall for her first year at UNM because “it was a really pretty view.”
Di Pomazio’s routine has changed drastically to adjust to the new normal that is the pandemic. A majority of the day is spent in the dorm attending online classes and doing homework, whereas a normal era would allow a college student to stroll around campus, visit friends and socialize in dining halls.
Kristy Donaldson, Di Pomazio’s mother, said the online class environment may have an impact on Di Pomazio’s motivation to keep up with her studies.
“Her greatest struggle will be motivation,” Donaldson said. “I feel like being in the classroom with classmates and professors attending a normal classroom is motivating to do better on assignments and overall in every class.”
Other students have also noted their difficulties with staying focused in an abrupt, sometimes detached online environment.
“As her mother, I want to go bring her home right now before anyone on campus gets sick,” Donaldson said. “But also I have to remember she was raised with responsibility and has enough common sense to know when it isn’t safe to stay on campus.”
Jadais Sylvester, a close friend of Di Pomazio, has seen their relationship dynamic strengthen in the era of the pandemic.
“We decided not to meet in person for the sake of our families’ safety, but other than that I would say it hasn’t been impacted,” Sylvester said. “If anything, it has made our friendship stronger because we’ve stood by each other through unclear times.”
Kyalynn Moore-Wilson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KyalynnW