UMass freshmen move in despite rain, Covid

Aug 29, 2020

Grey skies and an unusually quiet campus marked the annual freshmen move-in day at UMass Dartmouth on August 29, as the new first year students came to school on a staggered schedule to start off their college careers amid the Covid pandemic.

Yellow-clad students at the university entrance on 285 Old Westport Road directed all those moving in for the semester to a Covid testing site at the Woodland Commons entrance before they were allowed to move their stuff in large green bins.

Freshmen traditionally are the first to move in — and this year, they will be housed in the brand-new Balsam and Spruce Halls, which were finished just in time for the 2020 fall semester.

Although the university website states the new residence halls hold 1,210 beds, this year only 750-800 students are expected to live on campus — down from 3,268 students last fall, according to UMass Dartmouth spokesperson Ryan Merrill.

Merrill also noted that fewer than 10 students had to quarantine for 14 days after coming in from out-of-state.

An updated policy for pandemic prevention this semester states that all lectures will be offered online, while labs, studios, and clinics will be offered face-to-face. 

Access to campus facilities will be restricted and public events are cancelled for the semester, although research activity will continue with safety protocols. After Thanksgiving, all instruction and exams will be offered remotely.

Only students who need to travel the greatest distance for on-campus instruction or those who rely on university services on-campus are allowed to live in halls.

Dana Douglas came from Pennsylvania to study studio art in Massachusetts, where both her parents are from — and luckily, the family said, they didn’t have to quarantine.

“My schedule only works if I’m on campus,” Douglas noted. 

“This decision came yesterday at about three o’clock in the afternoon, that we had to move on campus,” said mom Cheryl, who added that the family woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get to the university on time. “And then we have to drive back!” she laughed.

When asked if she was nervous about moving, Dana shrugged. “I don’t really have a choice,” she said.

As for the new building, said dad Jonathan, “It’s beautiful!”

Bostonian and business management student Kelsey Malcolm said that she is nervous about living in halls, but also excited. “It’s my first time living away [from home]!” she said with a laugh.

Mom Chedelyne said that she is “happy, but scared” to see her daughter off to college. “We’re emotional, and we’re super proud of her,” she said.

“[She] didn’t have senior prom, didn’t have a real graduation,” she noted. “I’m actually really excited that she’s actually getting this opportunity to be on campus.”

“And this dorm is, my God...It’s gorgeous,” Malcolm added with a grin. “It’s like a hotel! Can I come back and be a freshman?”