The University of New Hampshire (UNH) opened their doors back up to students for the fall semester amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that started earlier this year. There are many additional rules and regulations such as no large group gatherings, required face masks in class, and bi-weekly testing, and some students are struggling to adapt to this system that is considered the new normal.
Danielle Sinko, a finance major, is trying to make the most of her senior year at UNH. Sinko said that she felt safe coming back to campus after her first week of classes. “The protocols were well-followed by the professors in class and even though I do not like wearing a mask in class, I definitely understand why,” she added.
Sinko is positive that students will not be sent back anytime soon. Even after a COVID-19-related incident affiliated with Theta Chi Fraternity, Sinko believes that is a lesson learned for all students that UNH is taking the current situation seriously. “I feel that fraternities and sororities should definitely be more careful,” she added.
When asked about what she looks forward to this semester, she said, “I have good roommates and we get along very well. We don’t have to go to the bars or parties to have fun, we can have fun in small groups.” However, Sinko is trying to be optimistic for her last semester in spring before she graduates.
Brandy Mauro, a junior neuroscience and behavior major said, “Most of my classes are online and the only physical classes that I have are labs.” She further explained that it was really hard to focus in class due to the new rules, which have led to less-interactive labs. “Instead of actually doing these labs we are now only reading about it in class,” she added.
Mauro was excited to be back at UNH at first, but with the new rules such as the need to wear a face mask to go to the bathroom in dorms, she felt that it was strange to be back in an “alternate dimension.”
Mauro, who is withdrawing from UNH this semester, said “I honestly feel that we should have not come back, it is a waste of time.” She expects that the school will switch to online learning only in two weeks. “That is why I am withdrawing this semester; my classes are really strange, the number of positive cases is increasing every week, and soon if there is a case in one dorm, the whole dorm would have to quarantine,” she added.
Despite plans to withdraw this semester, Mauro believes that UNH is doing the best they could with the situation. “I know the university is testing about 15,000 students but they need to give the test results back quicker,” replied Mauro on the one thing she would change regarding UNH’s testing policy. She added, “For example, we have only known about the Theta Chi incident one week after, imagine the people that they have been in contact with.”
For Madelyn Bronder, her sophomore year at UNH feels very confusing. “Some of my classes are through Zoom and some are online; one is even a hybrid, which I am definitely not used to,” said the Andover native. Additionally, Bronder is also not happy with the pricing of the meal plans. “With the current situation at the dining halls, I think we are overpaying,” she explained.
However, Bronder is glad to be away from home and be with friends, even with some restrictions. “I get bored easily at home and it is nice to see familiar faces,” she commented. In terms of expectations for the coming week, Bronder expects more communication from UNH administration regarding the increase in positive cases.
Despite the fact that most returning students feel unsure about being back on campus, first-years Sean O’Neill and Henry Gorhan remained optimistic. “Most of my classes are online except for my lab that has a rotating schedule; I am still adjusting but I will get the hang of it,” said O’Neill. The two mechanical engineering students further explained how they were already used to remote learning since it was implemented during their senior year in high school. “I think UNH is doing a good job at catering everyone’s best interest,” added Gorhan.
Although O’Neill and Gorhan have not had the chance to experience college events such as U-Day, homecoming and Halloween, they are both happy to just be making new friends. “It is not an ideal way of starting my college experience by missing out on important events, but if we follow the rules, we will get through this and everything will be back to normal,” commented Gorhan.
Both students felt confident that the school will be open until Thanksgiving break. “The number of cases will definitely go up, but not to the extreme,” said O’Neill.