Living and working in a college residence during the dark days of COVID-19

As Algonquin College students return to study and live on campus, they’re still hit with the reality that a sense of normalcy is not the easiest to find. Before COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic, students living in residence were able to roam around and have their typical college student life. Reegan Derikx, a third-year student […]
Photo: Muna Aden
Reegan Derikx, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Public Safety program and residence advisor, has felt the effects of living in residence with limited activities to do.

As Algonquin College students return to study and live on campus, they’re still hit with the reality that a sense of normalcy is not the easiest to find.

Before COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic, students living in residence were able to roam around and have their typical college student life.

Reegan Derikx, a third-year student in the bachelor of public safety program and residence advisor, has felt the effects of living in residence with limited activities.

“It is harder to meet people and have the experience of being with other people in a chill environment without worrying and without being on Zoom where it’s more awkward, I find,” said Derikx.

In previous years, the Algonquin residence staff would hold a variety of events that would give returning and new students an opportunity to get to know each other and enjoy a night of fun without feeling confined to one space.

Brittanie Walker-Reid, a residence life manager for the past seven and a half years, was just one of the many residence workers who attended these events.

“Our favourite was community kitchen, in the back lobby with wonderful food and music,” said Walker-Reid.

Another event that would be held throughout the year in residence was a coffee house, where students could come down and grab a cup of hot chocolate, tea, or coffee and mingle with fellow students.

“There was always something going on somewhere in the building, and often I would find out about an event by simply walking by it, and oftentimes if I was interested, I could just join right in,” said Derikx.

This year, with many guidelines in place, in-person events and even casual student hangouts aren’t permitted. If students would like to participate in activities and events, they have the opportunity to do that online through Zoom. The focus now is for residence workers and students to have a safe living environment.

“Lots of focus on maximizing community safety. Making sure all students have engaged with the mobile campus safety app to place their vaccination status in,” said Walker-Reid.

Although only time will tell when the residence can look like it once did, Derikx is remaining hopeful and looks forward to being able to continue working at the residence once it’s at full capacity.

“I really do hope that I can have another year or even just another semester with kind of a more normal experience before COVID,” said Derikx.

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