We finally get to be back in person, and everyone is back on campus. However, it’s not like it was before the pandemic. This begs the question: What is different, outside of mask wearing, and could be making it harder to get used to being back in person?
A noticeable difference is the big tent in the Quad with folding tables and chairs. People can sit outside and study, eat, catch up with friends, or just take a break between classes. Students aren’t required to wear masks outside and the tables are spread out. How comfortable is it to study in that space if you’re there for a long period of time between classes? Or when you’re done for the day, but not ready to go back to your dorm or house? It’s not too comfortable if you’re there longer than 30 minutes to an hour.
You may say, what about the library? Isn’t it open? Yes, it is, but you have to wear a mask, and not everyone may be able to focus to their best ability while studying or taking a test online when they have to wear a mask while they study.
Plus, if you’re someone who uses disposable masks, every so often you may have to change your mask out. So, along with other costs that come up in college, you also have to spend additional money on more masks so that you’re following campus masking guidelines.
Before the campus shut down and everything went online, you could eat anywhere on the first floor of the library, or other study rooms in the other buildings where classes take place. Now, you can only eat in three locations in the library, and the study rooms in the class buildings don’t allow food or drinks anymore.
Two of the three places in the library are too small and fill up too fast. One of the locations doesn’t even have outlets, so if you’re studying and getting a quick snack between classes, hopefully you don’t have to charge your laptop or phone for your next class while you’re eating.
There are also many differences in dining locations. SRU still has Boozel and Weisenfluh Dining Halls, but the vendors have changed. A lot of people have noticed the difference in the quality and quantity of food.
In previous years, Boozel had options for almost everyone. If you were a vegan or vegetarian, you had the option to make a wrap at the wrap station, but that doesn’t seem to be an option this year. You can make a sandwich or salad, but there isn’t a large variety of choices. Plus, the sandwich can’t be toasted like in the past.
Is this a result of the staff shortage in the dining locations, or is it because of the change in dining vendors from AVI Foodsystems to Aramark Corporations? Not to mention, the wait time in all dining locations seems to be longer. But again, is this due to short staff or the difference in vendor?
With the change in food vendors, people may be stuck getting the same thing time after time or forced to order food to campus from places like DoorDash and Uber Eats. This is one of the only ways to get different food options outside using meal plans that students pay for at the beginning of each semester.