COVID-19 has changed the college experience in many ways, and students, security, and Colby Emergency Response have been adjusting to how students spend their weekends now.
When students arrived back on campus in late August, most knew the party scene at the College would look very different than what they were used to because of social-distancing and mask-wearing requirements.
The College enacted a 10-person limit for indoor gatherings and a 50-person limit for outdoor gatherings at the start of the semester.
The new restrictions mean that the typical weekend crowds at the Alfond Senior Apartments, the Spa in Cotter Union, and 30-person parties in a single dorm room have changed. Although students have still been “partying” on the weekends, the College’s security office said that students have, according to them, mostly been abiding by the COVID-19 rules.
In an interview with The Colby Echo, Bob Williams, the Director of Security, noted that the “semester has been relatively calm other than a slight uptick in the calls over the past two weeks.”
“The combination of the spring-like weather, Halloweekend, and the election, it was inevitable that we would be a bit busier,” Williams explained.
Williams said that the hotspots for activity on the weekends have mostly stayed the same as last year. These include the outdoor areas behind Heights and the Alfond Apartments, although new places have also emerged outdoors as students find ways to circumvent the 10-person limit. Williams says security has shutdown parties by the soccer fields and the arboretum, even confiscating a speaker in one case.
Over the past weekend, security ended a party with over 40 students who weren’t wearing masks. There has also been a resurgence of students scaling the roof of Heights. Williams said that bars were installed a few years ago by the windows to prevent students from accessing the upper roof.
If there is a silver lining of the COVID-19 restrictions, it has been fewer intoxication calls compared to last year. Williams credits this to the ten-person gathering limit which he said has helped students keep better track of their alcohol consumption. Williams said that the number of transports has also been down.
Williams said that “most of the time students are not transported. The goal is to make sure they are safe whether that be in the hospital or in the care of a friend on campus.”
Joanelle Tran `21, the Chief of Service of Colby Emergency Response (CER), says the call volume has been a lot lower this year.
“By this time last year, CER had already run 74 calls, 58% of which were substance-related (and with 39% of those calls resulting in a transport). This semester, we have only had 33 calls, 45% of which have been substance-related (and with 53% of those calls resulting in transport).”
Tran said “we usually only have extra staff on for Doghead and certain special events (e.g. concerts, sporting events, etc.)” CER received seven calls on Halloweekend in 2019 (57% of which were substance-related) and six calls (all-substance related) from this past Halloweekend.
Sam Kwon `21, the Deputy Chief of Operations and Personnel of CER, was on shift during Halloween and added that it was pretty standard night.
He revealed that “we [CER] normally run 24/7 year-round, but we started the semester only running 12-hour shifts for only weekend coverage.”
When it comes to dorm damage, Williams said it is hard to say whether there has been an uptick or downtick.
“There is less vandalism in terms of broken furniture and signs. But if you’re looking at the cost of cleaning, if there are 6-7 bathrooms that need to be cleaned then that is another extra cost for the cleaning staff.”
Williams says the job of security is not to regulate student mask usage, however, students found to be in violation of the 10-person in a room limit will be written up and required to meet with Assistant Dean of Students Cameron Cox.
Williams says he expects the last weekend before finals to be a busy weekend with many students planning a last hurrah before heading home for Thanksgiving break. Students can expect more security officers on duty that weekend.
~ Fiona Huo `23