Before the majority of the students came back to campus for the start of the spring semester, there were a few who returned to Miami early. Although COVID-19 provided record-low resident attendance during the winter term, resident assistants (RAs) made the best of the experience.
During a usual winter term, Assistant Director of Residence Life Joe Hawkins said Miami has 100-300 students on campus, but this year there were less than 100. He said students who stay in Oxford usually do so because they are participating in some sort of winter term experience like classes, internships and jobs.
“If you think about it, it makes sense, right? Like, there are so many folks who couldn't do internships, there’s so many things you can't do because they're just not accessible to them because of the restrictions that are happening in the world,” Hawkins said.
Sophomore political science and strategic communications major Ethan Tinsley said one of the reasons he decided to return to Miami for winter term was because of the connections he had in Oxford.
“I have a lot of friends that live here. My girlfriend lives here,” Tinsely said. “Plus, I also have some harder classes this semester. So I wanted to start reading, studying and kind of prepping for that.”
Tinsley, who began his term as an RA last September in Porter Hall, said having less students on campus made the traditional RA experience a bit different. While he lived in Porter Hall, he also oversaw Stoddard Hall.
“Every day, I was checking for maintenance issues and stuff like that. And it was just the two minutes out of my day, every day. So it was really easy,” Tinsely said.
Hawkins said that during the winter term, like the regular school year, the job of RAs is to do rounds to make sure there aren’t any maintenance or facility issues in the building they are assigned. But in addition to this, they are there to support students on campus.
“A lot of the winter term RAs are there to make sure that residents have access to somebody if they need them,” Hawkings said.
Senior Kloey Murphey said she enjoyed her time as a winter term RA but missed being able to build a community with those around her.
“I'm a big people person, and I love, like, being around people, getting to talk to people. And somehow, there really wasn't many people around in the building that I live in,” Murphey said.
Murphey said she didn’t have many friends on campus during the break and spent a lot of her free time in her room watching TV or trying to find other things to do.
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“The main difference was just the lack of people because, like, during a normal semester, as an RA, my job was kind of, just to, like, say hi to people, and talk to people [and] kind of just build a community that way, but it's a little bit harder to build community and connect with people when you never see them, right?” she added.
Tinsley said although the winter term provided a different experience, he enjoyed conducting his duties as an RA on a smaller scale.
“You get to have that experience of, like, going on rounds without the pressure of residents [needing] you, or, like, when everybody's on campus, people are coming back from parties with COVID,” he said. “You kind of just get that experience without all that unnecessary pressure.”