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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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At long last, first-years arrive on campus

After starting the year online, first-years are now living on campus for a chance at some semblance of the college experience they envisioned. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

In Grinnell, the cold has settled in.

A soft blanket of snow coats the whole campus, muting the sound of footsteps, so silent that it is a constant reminder of what could have been.

While it is a far cry from the boisterous nature of Grinnell in the past, the chill has not dampened the spirits of new Grinnellians huddled together in the dorms.

With the beginning of Spring 1, Grinnell College invited all first-years and select upperclassmen to live on campus, in addition to students who received permission to live on campus in Fall 1 and 2. Students began moving in the last week of January at staggered times, based on their dorm assignments.

Upon arrival in Grinnell, students were given a rapid COVID-19 test and asked to quarantine in their rooms to wait for their results. During that time, meals were delivered directly to dorm rooms in order to minimize risk.

Apart from email communications, there were no meetings set up with RLCs or welcoming committees like usual move-in days. Instead, students found two black face masks, hand sanitizer and a face shield already in their rooms when they moved in.

Students are required to wear face masks both in campus buildings and outdoors. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

For first-years especially, this can be a disorienting experience. “It was a bit strange,” said Allison Moore `24, “[My family] just drove up. And I wasn’t really greeted, so I wasn’t sure where to go. … I texted a friend who I knew was in my dorm building, and she helped me take my stuff in.”

Once students receive their first negative result, they are released to quarantine on campus, meaning they cannot go into town (until their second negative) but can begin going into campus buildings that have been designated for use.

Face masks and shields are required at all times, both outside and inside buildings. In the Dining Hall, this makes for quite a few awkward miscommunications due to muffled voices. In contrast to the buffet-style free-for-all that has been standard, meals are now grab-and-go. Students walk in, receive their food in plastic to-go boxes and walk out.

Because COVID-19 prevents them from congregating in the Dining Hall, groups typically find other places to eat, and many decide to be with their scurry.

Scurry is the name for each student’s designated dorm-based social group. These were decided based on a form sent out to invited students, who wrote down the names of friends with whom they would like to live.

Zade Mullin ’24 (left), Simon Hodson ’24 (second left), Krishna Mysore ’24 (second right) and Rodolfo Gonzalez ’24 (right) pose for a photo outside of the JRC after getting their pre-packaged grab and go Dining Hall meals. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

Face masks are still required within the scurry and individuals cannot enter each other’s rooms, but they are allowed to be with each other in the lounges.

Students can also reserve classroom spaces in the HSSC, Noyce and Bucksbaum through the scheduling website 25live. The Harris Center has become a designated social space for students, with pool tables and board games available, as well as copious amounts of hand sanitizer. Up to ten people can make a reservation for the same space at one time on a first-come, first-served basis.

Burling Library, along with other spaces, is still closed.

Despite the technical logistics, the opening of new student spaces has been a welcome addition to campus. “Here, it’s the right place to be doing work,” said Ayan Rahman `24. “It’s cool to be in school, where I’m supposed to be doing school, and being around people my own age.”

Rahman also noted, “For some reason, [my friends and I] have been obsessing over the mail room.”

Though social activities are different than a typical year, Rahman said he and other students seem grateful for what they have. While he said the connections between scurries have not seemed very strong so far – North, South and East Campus have ecosystems of their own – scurries have provided the community first years have been craving.

Lucy Suchomel ’24 (left), Grayson Towne-Colley ’24 (second left), Ori Shaham ’24 (second right) and Chris Stuckart ’24. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

Alex Kim `24 has been on campus since the start of the academic year and was able to witness the transition from the minimal population during the fall semester to the spring.

“For the first two terms, it was very lonely,” said Kim. “The only interaction I had was with my best friend through FaceTime. But now that people are on campus, it’s a much better experience, because we have the opportunity to interact.” Originally living in Norris, he has now moved into Cowles with friends from his tutorial.

“When [my scurry] was all in the basement lounge, one of my friends brought his speaker in and we all queued up some of our favorite songs,” said Moore. “We sat there mostly quietly, jamming, admiring the music. We were listening to a version of the song ‘Hallelujah’ and everyone just got dead silent because it was so beautiful. We all had a moment where we couldn’t believe that we were in person, enjoying music, with other first-years in college.”

Correction: Simon Hodson’s name was spelled in an earlier version of this story. The mistake has been fixed.

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    Aaron. YostFeb 10, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Great article! Although I take offense at the misspelling of Simon HODSON’S name. Nonetheless promote the writer to editor!