Whether it is for an in-person class, to escape their families or to experience college life as much as they can, Michigan State students were enthusiastic about moving back into dorms across campus this weekend for the spring semester.
3,800 students return to MSU dorms ahead of spring semester
Two thousand students moved into dorms across Michigan State’s campus as Michigan State begins to gradually increase its on-campus population according to Bethany Balks, associate director of communications for Residential and Hospitality Services (REHS) at MSU.
“As fall semester was going on, we were hearing from more students that there were maybe different needs, but that they still wanted to get back to campus,” Balks said.
In the fall, MSU had just under 2,000 students living on campus and only offered 40 in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the spring, Balks said that Michigan State will have around 3,800 students living on campus between dorms and on-campus apartments and will offer 400 in-person classes.
In addition to increasing the number of students on campus, Michigan State will have students living in dorms with community-style bathrooms such as Holden and Brody Hall. Balks said that MSU was in contact with other schools in the Big Ten, and did not find any link between community bathrooms and the spread of the virus.
Despite concerns about a potential COVID-19 outbreak on campus, Michigan State students are confident in MSU’s health and safety protocols and are excited to be able to live on campus.
“I'm looking forward to meeting new people. Getting bonds. Just kind of experiencing adulthood, I guess,” Journalism freshman Benjamin Levine said.
“I just wanted to get away from home,” Horticulture freshman Isabella Archer said. “I'm excited to meet new people.”
Michigan State will continue to use the Kellogg Center as a living space for students that test positive for COVID-19 and are exploring the option of using Hubbard Hall as another space to quarantine students according to Balks.
Living at home and participating in online classes took a toll on the mental health of a lot of students. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40% of adults in the United States are struggling with their mental health or substance abuse since the start of the pandemic.
“It's (the pandemic) affected my mental health, like I've been really stressed and I've had a lot of anxiety,” Zoology freshman Kyleigh Haren said. “It's just really hard to deal with it. It's kind of scary. But it's nice to have people around me and people I can relate to.”
“When I was home, I was kind of sad,” Levine said. “All my home friends were going to college and I was working. I felt like I was missing out on my prime years.”
The move-in process was much different than in years past, as RA’s and volunteers from REHS oversaw the process but did not directly assist students moving in.
“We'll have people either outside or in the lobbies kind of guiding people through the process. We tried to make sure signage is really good. So it's definitely low contact. And that's for everyone's benefit,” Balks said.
Students living on campus will have to participate in the COVID-19 early detection program, also known as the Spartan Spit program, once a week and fill out daily health screening forms.
“I think it's a really good program,” said Haren. “I think it's nice to have it like every single week, just to make sure everybody's safe.”
Students are confident in Michigan State’s health and safety protocols for living on campus and believe that MSU is doing enough to keep students safe while allowing them to live on campus.
“I think that they're taking the safety measures that are needed to be taken to accommodate all of us. And I feel like I myself also need to take those same safety measures,” Business freshman Brooke Babcock said.
Students and staff are cautiously optimistic about the semester and are looking forward to making the most out of this unique experience.
“I'm trying to go into the semester with a glass half full,” Global International Studies junior Katie Filion said, who is an RA in Bailey Hall. “It's nice that everyone's gonna have their own room. So I hope you know, we're not gonna have any roommate issues. But it's a cool thing to reflect on the fact that these people are, you know, paying a double price and getting a single room, which is really awesome. So that's a positive outlook about it. And I just want people to be friendly. And so that's how we're going into the new year.”