Ella De Jong—Guest Writer
Dordt University has not bypassed the effects of COVID-19. The university is required to abide by CDC guidelines for social distancing and quarantining students. These regulations and requirements have changed the social aspects of the Dordt experience.
Both quarantine and social distancing separate the students from their regular college life or from a college life they only heard about.
After being in quarantine for 12 days, freshman Sarah Wenke says, “It is creating a lot less social interaction than other freshman classes have had in the past.”
Social events have been cancelled on campus, and there have been regulations for how many students can come to sporting events. Defender Days was supposed to be held on October 16 and 17, but the virus forced Dordt to cancel the weekend for visiting parents and alumni. Sporting events were still held, but one anticipated activity was completely cancelled—Late Night with the Defenders.
Students in quarantine are not missing out on the cancelled events, but they miss out on sporting events and the regular social interactions of college life.
Dr. Abby Foreman, a sociology professor at Dordt, says, “Just having that social interaction and being connected to them and being with another person is important for college students, and really for all of us.”
College students need to be able to interact with other students. Social media does not help. Students in quarantine can see what other students are doing all throughout the day. They watch other student’s Instagram stories as they feel like they are forgotten.
Joshua de Jong, a senior at Dordt who went into quarantine after being contacted traced, says, “I felt like people were not aware of where I was even after they asked me after the first day. I was just kind of off everyone’s radar.”
College students are also faced with the fear of not making as many friends. Wenke says that she felt limited in the ability to make more friends due to social distancing regulations.
All these fears and worries can lead students to turn inward. Dr. Foreman explains that less social interaction can lead to increased anxiety and depression. It can also lead to a lack in motivation.
Dordt continues to push against these negative social effects.
Robert Taylor, the vice president for student success and the dean of students at Dordt, says, “One of the things we are known for is our social campus, but COVID has made that challenging.”
The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education’s 2020 college rankings put Dordt at number one in student engagement in the nation for the fifth year in a row. Dordt faculty and students are proud to be a part of a university with this social engagement.
Foreman and Taylor both praise the students for their work in following the guidelines with the virus and staying social.
Dordt holds to its rules of quarantining students and social distancing out of a desire to stay open for in-person classes till December 11. Taylor explains that he continually sends out emails about continuing social distancing and staying proactive in wearing masks in order to avoid students going into quarantine.
“It’s the last thing I would want for students to be away from campus,” says Taylor.
Dordt’s faculty and students are doing their best to avoid the social effects of quarantine and social distancing.