Last semester was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic causing unprecedented campus closings at colleges and universities across the world. Ramapo College was no exception. At first, Ramapo announced a two week extension to the regularly scheduled spring break.
During this time the pandemic worsened and Ramapo announced that the rest of the semester would be completely virtual. The college campus closed until further notice, and students had to adapt to a virtual learning environment.
Over the summer, all eyes were on Ramapo’s administration to see what the college would do for the fall semester. Colleges and universities across the country were taking on varying approaches to ensure the safety of their students, faculty and staff. Some announced they were remaining entirely virtual while others announced hybrid methods that combined in person and virtual learning.
Ramapo decided to follow the latter method of operation. They announced that they would be offering in person, virtual and hybrid classes for their fall semester. They also opened up dorms for students to move back into.
A lack of social distancing at several colleges and universities across the country have resulted in mass campus closings. However, Ramapo has made significant changes to avoid the spread of COVID-19 on campus to prevent the quick closings that have plagued other colleges since the fall semester began.
The college has implemented steps to combat this, including a strict suspension of the guest policy. If any student has a guest visit them on campus, or if another resident visits their room, they will be immediately suspended from housing for the semester.
Other policies were also enacted to limit student interaction. The college integrates these policies based on the reopening phases determined by Governor Phil Murphy. The phases determine what parts of campus are accessible to students, and Ramapo College opened in "Phase 2," meaning that limited in person classes were allowed, dining is only open for grab and go, the gyms remain closed and the library is open for reservations only. Full details on areas that are open is available in the Ramapo College restart plan on the campus' website.
Personally, I knew that moving back to campus was the best option for me. I took an in person class to avoid an entirely online course load. I found online formatted classes to be difficult and hard to give my full attention to. This is why I registered for housing late in the process and was placed with suitemates in Laurel Hall.
By the time I moved in, my suitemates had either moved to different housing or decided to do the semester from home. This action is not unprecedented for this semester. Most dorms on campus are at less than half of their capacity.
Ramapo College’s campus is a vibrant community and has always been teeming with laughter and conversation. Two people from opposite walks of life can meet at Ramapo and form a deep friendship. They can get coffee in between classes at Dunkin, study together at the Potter Library, and then decompress after classes at a CPB event. This community is still present on campus, no matter the steep decline in the student body. It’s still visible in the moments of brief conversations between students and at the small virtual dorm events thrown by Resident Assistants.
Despite the uncertainty and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramapo is banding together to look out for each other in a world we may not recognize anymore.