Wayne State campus residents moved into their dorms for the fall 2021 semester from Aug. 26 to 29.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the WSU campus, some freshmen are optimistic for a return to normalcy this year. 

“I’m excited actually. Yes, there’s a pandemic, but we’re working our way through it,” said incoming freshman psychology major Sierra Presnikovs. “And to me, it’s better than it was a year ago. It’s going to get better and we adapt to our surroundings.”

In an email to the campus community Wednesday, President M. Roy Wilson said he was excited to welcome students back to the WSU campus.

The move-in process was completed in line with requirements set forth by the Public Health Committee, Director of Residence Life Nikki Dunham said in an Aug. 30 email to The South End.

"All events pertaining to move-in were approved by the health policy committee in advance and were consistent with their guidelines,” Dunham said. “Everyone in every building was required to submit a Campus Daily Screener or Guest (Campus) Screener and wear a mask.”

Presnikovs said though COVID-19 guidelines can be an inconvenience, they’re important to protect public health.

"It's not as bad as I thought it would be. But it's just the mask and the screener, and it's just annoying,” Presnikovs said. “I'm not used to having my phone out all the time. So having to get my phone out just to walk into a building can get annoying. But it's a necessity, I think.”

Incoming freshman social science major Lucas Smith said he was pleased with WSU's enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.

"It's nice to have people say that you need a mask. It's never good to be screamed at by someone for forgetting it, but I appreciate how understanding WSU has been about some people falling out of that habit,” Smith said. “They're enforcing it firmly, but without being aggressive about it.”

Approximately 85% of campus residents have moved in, Dunham said. The Office of Housing & Residential Life expects the remaining 15% to move into their dorms after Labor Day. 

Dunham declined to provide details on how this year’s move-in numbers compared to previous years. She said WSU will share more data on student residents after WSU's census day on Sept. 15.

Incoming freshman engineering major Melina Pardales said remote learning during the pandemic motivated her to live on campus.

"If anything, COVID made it more important for me to move out,” Pardales said. “For the past year, I've felt like I've been trapped with my family. I love them, but I enjoy having different people to be around.”

Presnikovs said she plans to make the best of her campus experience amidst the pandemic.

"I will say, we only have one year for each school grade, you can only be a freshman once,” Presnikovs said. “Even with COVID, you should know that you have to take precautions, but that shouldn't stop you from having fun and enjoying your freshman year.”

Dunham said her team is working to accommodate freshmen concerns on campus life during the pandemic.

"Our residence life team is working hard to build community among residents through a variety of programs and resources,” Dunham said. “These are occurring both in-person and virtually. I'd really encourage all residents to attend an event…  They (campus residents) have an advantage because living on campus helps them get more connected much more conveniently.”

COVID-19 cases in Wayne County are currently increasing, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Pardales and other freshmen said they were unaware of WSU’s policies for handling a positive COVID-19 case in campus housing. 

“I haven’t thought about that (an outbreak) too much because my hope is that it’s not going to happen,” Pardales said. “But I’m still curious what we’re going to do if that happens.”

The Campus Health Center has isolation and quarantine policies for COVID-19 cases in campus housing, according to its website.

Campus residents are advised to visit the Housing Office’s COVID-19 website for more information on how positive COVID-19 cases would be handled, Dunham said.

“We work with the CHC, who advises us on student residents who may need to quarantine or isolate,” Dunham said. “The CHC handles all contact tracing to other students or residents who may need to quarantine or isolate.”

Smith said they prefer to navigate pandemic life with campus roommates rather than living alone.

“Even if I’m cooped up, I’d rather be cooped up in a room with two people who I enjoy being around than getting my own room and being locked in the corner of my house alone,” Smith said. “It also means that I have people who can encourage me to get out of bed in the morning.”

Irving Mejia-Hilario is the managing editor for The South End. He can be reached at managingeditortse@gmail.com

Cover photo by Irving Mejia-Hilario.