Students Reflect on Quarantining in NYU Housing

From doing everything to doing nothing, these students share how they’ve occupied their time in housing before the semester starts.

Tisch first-year Steven Zambon experiences his mandatory 14 day quarantine in his Lipton Hall. Students share and reflect on their experiences with the 14-day quarantine in NYU dorms. (Photo by Steven Zambon)

Move-In Day for students living in NYU’s residence halls this year was probably the most different it’s looked in NYU’s history — to say the least. Students returning to campus from hotspot areas for positive COVID-19 cases had to move in 14 days before the start of the semester to ensure that proper safety and health precautions were met before classes officially began. During these 14 days, students endured unreliable meal delivery, faced two mandatory COVID-19 tests and enjoyed a bit of free time before the semester began to unwind.

The email originally announcing these measures did not come with much time to prepare students to move in on relatively short notice. It was sent on July 30, less than three weeks before the proposed arrival back to campus.

As most students coming from hot spot areas moved in during the third week of August, the logistics behind NYU’s move-in plan were finally put to the test.

For CAS junior Bradli Washington, moving into Senior House was pretty simple. Students were told they were only allowed to take one cart when bringing their belongings up to their room, and Washington was able to achieve this with the help of her dad that day.

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In regards to what returning residents are allowed to do, Washington explained how much contact and free-range movement is permitted inside the residence halls.

“We’re not allowed to leave the apartment unless we’re leaving to take the covid test at Stern,” Washington said via Instagram Direct Message. “Can’t do laundry, can’t take out the trash, nothing. They gave us little packets of laundry detergent to hand wash clothes is [sic] necessary,and all our mail is delivered to our door by staff. We have to leave our trash outside the door, and staff takes it out for us.”

Washington didn’t expect her quarantine experience to be quite so rigidly contactless, previously thinking that she’d be able to move among the hall to carry out normal move-in routines, but she said that she understood the limitations due to safety assurances.

While quarantining, she has spent time watching Youtube, playing video games on her Nintendo Switch and making phone calls to her friends. She also participated in a 30-day language program via Twitch where she studied for an hour every day, allowing some sort of structure throughout her days.

“I think having something that I felt obligated to do everyday at the same time helped me stay sane,” she said. “I think the only issues with transitioning into classes are going to be figuring out exactly what’s in person and what’s not, and fixing my sleeping schedule.”

Gallatin first-year Greg Corn has been quarantining in Third North temporarily since Aug. 19 and will be moving into Founders Hall this upcoming week, as Founders was his original housing assignment.

Corn has been interacting with other residents through posting signs on his door saying messages like “hello” and spending his time watching movies.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting the days to go by this fast,” Corn said. “I thought I would be staring at a wall for most of the day, but there’s so much to do. I’m keeping myself busy and I’m actually having a good time.”

Corn also attended a couple Zoom meetings, each hosted by either Third North or NYU Welcome Week’s virtual programming. Some of the topics discussed in these meetings ranged from thrifting to music interests. He enjoyed them but wishes he attended more because it allowed him to interact with other students who are all going through a similar experience like him. 

“I’ve met so many new people over the Zoom events the school has put on, and I’m really excited to meet them in person,” Corn said. 

Tisch first-year Steven Zambon moved into Lipton Hall on Aug. 14 and has been trying to keep busy while in quarantine before the semester starts. He typically does some workouts, takes photos, reads, naps and watches movies. 

“Sporadically I listen to music or journal, no particular time, just when I feel like it,” Zambon said via text message. “I haven’t had interaction with other residents beyond a couple organized Zoom calls to break the ice.” 

One thing that surprised Zambon about his quarantine experience was the food delivery controversy.

“I wonder what would have happened if the food mishaps didn’t reach the news,” Zambon said. “[It] definitely was fun to see my fellow students on the news or on viral Tik Toks, though.”

As the new semester approaches, Zambon worried how he’s going to adjust to his new schedule.

“I’ve just been so stagnant for two weeks, feeling really bored a lot of the time [and] that it’s going to be a big shift to hit the ground running with classes,” Zambon said. “Although it will be nice to have more to do, I’m afraid I’ll have trouble mustering the motivation for class.” 

Zambon said that what’s getting him through his quarantine is the “beautiful” view of the New York City skyline he’s got from his dorm window, with the Empire State Building smack-dab in the middle.

CAS junior Pierre-Philippe Falcone, who currently resides in Alumni Hall, highlighted the importance of having a healthy balance of being productive and doing absolutely nothing.

“Honestly I’ve either had very productive days or the complete opposite,” Falcone said. “I think it’s easy to fall into either, it all just depends — for me — how I start my day. If it’s a lazy beginning, it’ll be a lazy day.”

Coincidentally, Falcone has been quarantining in the same exact dorm room he had last year, which he says feels so surreal given the fact that it was once decorated to the brim with his “muchness,” but now feels so empty.

“It feels very different, largely because I guess I’m not the same person I was when I left here,” Falcone said. “Obviously the room physically hasn’t changed either, but without my belongings in their original places either, it feels very different. I never got to properly say goodbye to my once-home, and so to come back with it entirely empty has all been very jarring.”

Falcone said that he’s been reminded how much he’s fascinated with people watching these past two weeks. Looking out his window, watching everyone going about their lives — while his is on a temporary halt — has shown him that he’s not entirely alone despite quarantining in solitude. 

While the two-week quarantine is set to end in the next couple of days as the fall semester begins, students are still in the process of learning day-by-day what NYU is expecting from them this semester. Those moving into residence halls from the tristate area and those previously placed in temporary housing are set to move in the upcoming weeks, which will most likely bring new challenges and obstacles. Though every week is going to bring new experiences, it’s all a matter of playing by ear and hoping these measures allow students to stay on campus for the entirety of the semester. That being said, it’s important to remember to social distance, wash your hands and wear a mask.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 e-print edition. Email Bella Gil at [email protected]

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