Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Maine, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced on Friday, November 6 that students would no longer be permitted to leave campus for any reason, effective Saturday, November 7. While many on-campus students said they understood the reasons for this decision, the change was still met with disappointment.
“I understand that, with COVID[-19] cases spiking so quickly, that the College had to do something. And this seems like it was one of a few options they might have had,” Yaseen Ahmed ’23, a Residential Life (ResLife) staff member, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
However, Ahmed still found the decision frustrating.
“In general, it’s been a frustrating time to be a college student, and this is just another in a series of long, little frustrations,” he said.
Still, some students expressed frustration at a perceived lack of communication surrounding this announcement.
“I was pretty unhappy that they didn’t give us any warnings. There weren’t any immediate changes to COVID[-19] on campus, and there wasn’t any close contact that would start a chain, so I think that they could have given us a better warning,” said Jacob Trachtenberg ’24 in an interview with the Orient.
Students living on campus were given an 18-hour warning before they were prohibited from leaving, resulting in many students venturing into town to run last-minute errands.
“I felt the need to cram everything into the last few hours we had,” said Sarah Greenberg ’24 in an interview with the Orient.
Laila McCain ’21, also a ResLife staff member, expressed concerns over the consequences of this short notice.
“I almost feel like it was more unsafe to have hundreds of first years going downtown all at once. Eating inside, going places, exploring—that feels a little more dangerous to me than having people casually walk down and get Little Dog for the afternoon,” she said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
“It does make sense that they’d want to [shut down campus] before we close because they obviously don’t want an outbreak here on campus when people are trying to get home for Thanksgiving—that would really suck—and we would all be potentially stuck here because they can’t legally let us go,” she added
Greenberg said she was frustrated that the College deemed additional restrictions necessary even with the twice-a-week COVID-19 testing protocol. She said that going into town had become a social activity for her. Stopping at Gelato Fiasco or walking through Hannaford allowed her to meet other students, especially those outside of her dorm.
“Because of [the testing protocol], it makes me think that we should have more freedoms because our tests are consistently coming back negative,” Greenberg said. “Overall, I think [the College] was overcautious.”
Aidan Ward ’24, however, took a different stance on the College’s new restrictions.
“They didn’t base this on nothing,” Ward said. “All of this is based off of real research … Yes, they might be doing different things from other schools. Yes, they might be being extra safe. But we are a success story. We sacrificed for it, but we are a success story.”
Jared Joyce ’24, too has had to adjust his routine now that he is no longer able to take bike rides down to Harpswell and Orr’s Island.
“I know a lot of my friends had planned trips or ideas … [for] before they leave,” Joyce said.
However, Joyce also noted that being restricted from leaving may give students more opportunities to spend time with their friends within the safety of campus.
“[We are] going to be trying to form relationships and solidify what [we] have [in the last week], and [spend] time with these really awesome people [we] have just come to meet. I really think not leaving campus is not much of an issue for [the last week],” Joyce said.
McCain, too, hopes students will make the most of their remaining time on campus.
“It’s good that the weather’s going to be nice, because at least people can be outside for longer periods of time, and it won’t feel so isolating inside,” McCain said. “We really lucked out in that sense.”