In an effort for students to remain on campus throughout the fall semester, residential living areas persist with social distancing and COVID-19 measures

Measures have been put into place to enforce social distancing guidelines in residence halls and Greek houses. Collegian file photo.

SARAH MAHNESMITH | STAFF REPORTER | smahnesmith@butler.edu

A month has passed since Butler University began welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester. Several new measures were put into place for all residence halls and Greek houses to increase the safety of students in close proximity with one another — these social distancing and health requirements are being enforced to ensure students will remain on campus until Thanksgiving break.

Prior to arriving on campus, students received information regarding the increased expectations of personal behavior and hygiene to protect others in the same living environments. According to Butler’s Return to Campus Plan, one major change to reduce risk is that no guests are allowed in on-campus residence halls and apartments.

Irvington House, Residential College, Fairview House and Butler’s apartment complexes have reduced the capacity of students allowed in common spaces. Additionally, face masks have been made mandatory in all residential areas, and residents are expected to maintain six feet of distance from others when possible.

Lucy Sandoval, a senior healthcare and business major, serves as a resident assistant in Irvington House this year and described her experience with the increased measures first-year students are to observe in Irvington.

“[Social distancing] has improved a lot,” Sandoval said. “At first, there was some confusion in regards to the rules, but I think people just weren’t aware of everything. Now that we have had our floor unit meetings and received emails from Dr. Ross, people know what’s expected of them. I think we are in the place where we know what we need to do around campus to keep others and ourselves safe.”

From Sandoval’s perspective, while students have done a better job observing the rules in residence halls and around campus over the past three weeks, she said oftentimes students still have to be reminded about the maximum capacities of common areas and mask requirements when in the presence of others.

Not only have rules changed in residence halls with increased measures due to COVID-19, but so has life in Greek housing on Butler’s campus. Fraternity and sorority houses are independent of Butler University, but were provided advice from university officials on appropriate measures to put into place.

Each house created individual health and safety plans for move-in, cleaning, sleeping arrangements, dining and quarantine that are still practiced.

Kailyn Scobie, a junior elementary education major and the vice president of facility operations for Alpha Chi Omega sorority, discussed the rules put into place at the Alpha Chi Omega house and their relation to those for on-campus housing. 

“Our main saying is that we are always a Butler student first and an Alpha Chi second, so that means we follow all Butler’s rules in the dorms and residence halls,” Scobie said.  

Scobie also described the measures for women in the house regarding social distancing and mask-wearing. On the first floor of the house, masks must be worn, as well as in any common area. In the bedrooms on the second floor, masks are not required, but it is recommended that they are worn in the hallways when going from room to room. Mealtimes are also scattered, with 15 women going every 15 minutes in order to comply with decreased room capacity.

The increased precautions exercised by the Alpha Chi Omega house are similar to the measures put in place by other fraternities and sororities on campus. In addition to mask-wearing and social distancing in houses, strict no-guest policies have been put into place for the time being so as to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. 

Taylor Harmon, a senior sports management major and the president of Delta Gamma sorority, commented on the impact of the community environment within the house as a result of the enhanced rules and quarantine practices. 

“I honestly think that this has been a positive experience for the girls, because normally we have girls going in and out all day long, going to class and going to work,” Harmon said. “With the quarantine and increased measures, I think it’s really forced our girls in the house to bond even more. The sophomore pledge class has now had the chance to meet all the upperclassmen and really spend that time with them. It has been good for all of us.”

It has been voiced by several executive officers from various fraternities and sororities on Butler’s campus that the measures have been taken seriously and are exercised by all members of the houses. When concerns arise from fellow members, they have been addressed and resolved, and regulations have been put in place in order to provide overall guidance for all live-in members.   

David Quintanilla, a junior sports media major and the vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha, spoke about balancing the opinions of the brothers with the safety measures recommended by authorities.  

“For the most part, our brothers have been very accepting of our policies, and they’re very understanding,” Quintanilla said. “We do like to always listen to what our brothers have to say, and we always try to balance that with what the overall opinion is versus what the school, the CDC, or state guidelines are requiring of us. Everyone’s been on the same path of what we feel like is right for the fraternity.”

Moving forward through the semester, the perspective of several upperclassmen on campus is to be safe, be smart, think of others and do your part. All Butler students are in this together, and it is important to be mindful of individual actions at this time.  

“What I’ve learned throughout my four years here at Butler is that we really do have a strong community of care here,” Sandoval said. “We’re all trying to look out for each other and that involves following those guidelines.”

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