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Living on Campus During the Pandemic as a Resident Advisor

As college students, the most relatable thing that most of us have in common is living on campus at our assigned dorms. But that was not the case for almost every student during the 2020-21 academic year. With the coronavirus devastating almost every state in America, campuses across the country had collectively decided to shut down their housing placements for prospective and returning students. So, they all decided to go back home and go through with their academic year entirely online. 

But that was not the case for a handful of international students who were left stranded here in a state of limbo. Onix Roige Diez ’23, an international student from Solsona, Catalonia, Spain, was one of the few students to be living on campus during the pandemic. In addition, Onix was also a Residential Advisor (RA) here on campus. The Round Table had a chance to sit down with Onix and interview him about his experience living on campus during the pandemic.

RT: So, Onix. Tell me a bit about yourself? 

Onix: I am an Environmental Chemistry major. I am also in the engineering program. So, next year, I am hoping to transfer to an engineering school. I am hoping to get an undergraduate degree in Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering. I like playing basketball, going to sporting events, and playing my guitar.

RT: So, you are one of the few lucky students to experience a full academic term here on campus as a sophomore? You also became a RA and you also had to quarantine the entire term in your dorm, and you did it all online. What was that like?

Onix: So right after the end of my freshman year, right after spring break, COVID hit. And I had done all my applications to become a RA before that, so I was not here during when all of the COVID madness happened. Quarantining was a bit different. I had to be in my dorm for two weeks. I could not leave. They brought all my food to my dorm. And, I had to isolate myself from everybody who was on campus. But outside of that, not many people were on campus. They had expectations from us to be physically distant. We had to mask up anywhere and anytime we were outside. We had very little social interactions. So being a new RA during that time was very hard and difficult as I had to train through Zoom and I had to interact with my residents completely online. I could not host any floor events in person, and it was very hard to interact with them to make sure everything was okay. It was hard to see people in general as I had relationships with other RAs and interacting with them was quite hard as well. I made a “box of positivity” for my residents so that they could leave suggestions for me and our housekeeper as we could not interact with each other physically. It was hard to build a relationship with them as I could not talk to them for long. Being a RA while in quarantine sucked as I felt like I could not be there for my residents. Other than that, it was very different from this year, and I wish I could tell you more. All I made sure was that people maintained COVID policies and stayed positive throughout the year.

RT: Any advice for prospective or current students to become a RA?

Onix: Good Question! I would say to be involved in different things that interest you. You could join a fraternity or sorority. Or join a club that interests you. Don’t be involved with a ton of stuff or too little stuff. Res Life usually looks for a diverse group of people to be a RA. Also, be on top of your stuff. Make sure you stay healthy, be there for others and for yourself. To be a RA, just be aware of your surroundings, be yourself, and be good at what you do. Also, talk to other RAs. If they know you well, they can recommend becoming a RA. Some of my best friends were RAs and they motivated me to become one!

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