Students weathering the pandemic in residence halls


Students living in residence halls during the COVID-19 pandemic are facing unique challenges. 

Nicole Mattson

Students with unique circumstances are still living in residence halls with the switch to virtual instruction. While classes are now online, some students have not yet had the opportunity to leave campus.

Jacob Friedrich, a freshman in electrical engineering, is still living in Wilson Hall. His sister is a nurse and his father is a firefighter. With both of them working frequently, they decided it would be safest for him to remain in Ames.

“[My experience living here now] has definitely been a lot different since before coronavirus,” Friedrich said. “It’s just myself and my [community adviser] living on the floor, so that’s a really big change. Obviously dining has been a big change as well. There’s not a lot of options through the dining center. They do provide meals, but it’s nice to actually have hot meals so I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with my CA. The gyms are closed, so that kind of keeps you trapped in your room. They’ve taken down the tennis and volleyball nets and the basketball hoops, so it really limits you to what you can do here on campus.”

With a significantly smaller number of residents, the use of communal bathrooms and kitchens has also decreased.

“There was a day where they shut down our kitchen and our bathroom because they said there weren’t enough residents on our floor to justify having them open, but after we raised complaints, they reopened them, which was really nice,” Friedrich said. “They’re still listening to us and they’re trying to work with us even though these are just really weird circumstances.”

Students that are staying in residence halls are seeing a very limited number of people throughout their day.

“I probably interact with six people and they’re mostly CA’s,” Friedrich said. “There are not a lot of people here. It’s mostly international students or students like myself that just have weird scenarios [and] are still staying here.”

Dinoth Rathnaweera, junior in mechanical engineering and Friley Hall CA, is an international student from Sri Lanka. The borders are closed due to COVID-19, so he was unable to return home when classes went online. He is the only one living on his floor in Friley.

Rathnaweera explained the way ISU Dining conducts their no contact meal service.

“Dining is still available for whoever is still on campus and has a meal plan. They just send an email with an online form and you just fill out what food you need—breakfast, lunch and dinner— and you get three options and then you go pick it up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.”

Iowa State is allowing students that do not have fridges or microwaves to rent them for the rest of the semester in order to best support them living without their usual meal plan service.