Marist Students: Welcoming Freshmen into the Red Fox Community

             Hello fellow Red Foxes! The end of the semester is finally upon us! Firstly, let me send all of you reading this a big “congratulations!” This has been a wild and strange semester, but we managed to make it until the end.

            With congratulations out of the way, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about something I’ve noticed on campus. Naturally, we all struggled to find our footing this semester as we came back to college during the midst of a global pandemic; but some of us weren’t “coming back.” For freshmen here at Marist, and at schools across the country, they were entering college for the first time under unprecedented circumstances. As a sophomore, I remember how lonely and confusing my first few weeks of college were, so I can’t even begin to imagine putting the pressures of online learning and social distancing on top of that.

            Sadly, based on my conversations with my freshman friends at Marist, as well as stories from my peers, I feel that a lot of freshmen are being left behind. One of the most wonderful parts of freshman year is trying new things, attending new events, and making new friends. However, this has been incredibly difficult for most of our freshmen, many of whom don’t know anyone at Marist. While the school has of course tried to provide activities and opportunities for everyone, including freshman, to socialize in a safe way, I believe our freshmen need a little more specialized attention.

            I’ve attended many of the socially distanced activities put on by the school this semester, such as the ‘make your own stuffed fox’ event or outdoor yoga, with my friends. Unfortunately, most freshmen don’t have friends on campus that they can attend these events with, and many don’t feel comfortable going alone. For some, the obvious answer would be to bring your roommate, but this doesn’t consider freshman who don’t get along with their room or those who don’t even have a roommate. One of my friends, a freshman herself, has been living in a single room for almost the entire semester. I was surprised to hear this, but even more surprised to find out that there were several girls without roommates in her building. I suppose this makes sense, as more students have the opportunity to attend school online this year or might have chosen to take a gap year until the world reaches a new sense of normality. Still, while some probably enjoy the extra space, others probably find it incredibly isolating.

Further still, freshmen at Marist are not allowed to keep their bedroom doors open unless they wear a mask. This is obviously an important safety rule that all freshmen should follow. Yet, one can’t deny that it limits the chances one has to meet people in their dorm. Freshmen don’t even have the opportunity to meet new people or chat with classmates in the dining hall! I’m sure it must be incredibly frustrating.

All of this is to say: the school is obviously doing the best that they can to keep everyone safe and healthy. That is Marist’s number one priority, as it should be. It is because of these rules and precautions, not just for freshmen but for all students, that we were able to attend classes on-campus while so many other colleges were strictly online. But I have seen the strength of our Red Fox community firsthand. To all of the seniors, juniors, and sophomores: I urge you to take a few extra minutes to say “hello” to a freshman in one of your classes or send an email to a Marist student whose HerCampus article you really enjoyed. For the freshman, take every opportunity you can to talk to your peers. Even if you have made some great friends this semester, one of your peers might be struggling to do the same. When we enter the spring semester, I hope we all put in a little extra effort to continue welcoming Freshman into our Red Fox community!