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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Campus

Residential students report feelings of isolation during COVID-19 pandemic


Residential students report feelings of loneliness and isolation on a mostly vacant campus amid continued calls for social distancing. | File photo

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many classes to move online and spurred students to live off-campus this semester. The increased vacancy has been an emotional hit to residential students.

Approximately 85 percent of UH undergraduates commute to campus during the academic year, but the University’s transition to predominantly online instruction amid the pandemic has drastically reduced the number of students coming to campus.

Meanwhile, residential students live on a largely empty campus and voice desires for companionship.

I’m feeling really lonely right now. I had a good number of friends here, but all of them are staying home or are otherwise unavailable,” said theatre junior Dean Coburn. “I miss the energy of all the people. I’ve never seen the Student Center so empty, and it’s honestly pretty depressing. I miss people in general.” 

The pandemic can cause individuals to experience increased feelings of stress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Actions such as social distancing that protect physical health can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness that increase stress and anxiety.

Freshmen face a unique semester as many enter college virtually, with some saying that it’s not the experience they expected. 

All my older peers say college is super fun and whatnot, but not being able to make new friends, meet new people, study with your classmates and directly talk to your professors is very sad and boring,” said biology freshman Rithika Angal. “I, most likely, will live on campus next year, but that depends highly on the progression of COVID-19.” 

Although campus sidewalks and parking lots are empty, some UH community members have chosen to look on the bright side at the positive effects the situation brings. 

Lines are not as long at the Student Center! I can pick up food in a matter of minutes without waiting so long,” said history senior Eva Bernal. “There is also less traffic on campus. Therefore, crossing streets or leaving campus is not too much of a nightmare! 

These unprecedented times have forced students to adjust schedules and routines, but they have also allowed students to find new hobbies and spend time outdoors. Bernal said that she copes with the loneliness that has accompanied living on campus through walking and visiting her favorite locations around campus. 

“My favorite activity is taking long walks on campus. So far, my favorite spots are the pond next to the architecture building and the fountains … The walks are not only distracting but it’s also good for my health,” Bernal said. 

Another thing is going to the Student Center and buying a treat; it’s a way to see other people and treat yourself at the same time. During these strange times we’re all living in, we have to remember to take a break and occasionally treat ourselves,” Bernal said.   

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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