By Sophia Turgeon, contributing writer.
Since March of 2020, COVID has impacted everybody at UMF drastically, including commuters. In fact, the effects of COVID have affected commuters very differently than it may have affected on-campus students.
After returning to campus in fall 2020, on-campus students had a lot of expectations including social distancing, wearing masks, sheltering in place, getting tested, and keeping social circles on campus small that consisted only of Farmington community members.
Commuters had guidelines that weren’t as strict, but may have suffered more in the grand scheme of things.
Tom Tubman, sophomore here at UMF, feels as though he hasn’t had the opportunity to build a community inside the UMF campus and feels detached as a whole. “It’s definitely made things a lot harder than I expected. Building a community has essentially been a non-starter since I live so far away from campus. Until this semester, I spent a majority of my time around campus hanging out in my car because my sister is immunocompromised,” Tubman said.
Luckily with COVID restrictions loosening up, Tubman has been feeling much safer. With that being said, Tubman’s 2021 fall semester has been a lot better than the previous semester. “Since so much of the campus population is vaccinated I feel much more comfortable being around on campus. I feel a lot more engrossed in my classes and overall have enjoyed college much more this year than I did last year,” Tubman said.
Morgan Rogers, junior at UMF, has had some similar experiences with commuting that Tubman had. “Between driving to campus for some classes, but not all, I’d say that there were some negative effects, mostly my connection and immersion in those classes,” Rogers said.
From a different standpoint, Rogers feels as though the COVID restrictions placed upon students this semester haven’t been as drastic, but is excited to be back in the classroom. “The restrictions haven’t been all that impactful, for me, apart from having in-person classes again. That has helped hold my interest and allowed for in depth studies while in class. An interesting side effect from the covid-restrictions was a better class experience when we had to limit the number of students in a class. That meant that a professor was able to have more thorough interactions with fewer students at a time,” Rogers noted.
Though UMF has handled the harsh reality of COVID to the best of their abilities, Tubman believes that the restrictions put on who is allowed to visit campus are not as flexible as he’d like. “I’ve got a few friends at Orono and they want to come visit UMF, but they haven’t been able to since they aren’t a UMF student,” Tubman said.
Rogers however, found that though the accommodations were understandable, he felt as though there should have been more communication on where commuters should go between classes while waiting. “I found that their accommodations were acceptable. However, one thing that I would have asked for was more clarity as to where commuting students could be when on campus but not in class. I didn’t know that we had a commuter lounge until part way through last semester,” Rogers said.
Hopefully as the school year progresses, restrictions will lessen and commuters will feel more welcome on campus.