Student housing residents use virtual events to stay connected amid COVID-19 housing protocol


Chris Torres

In an effort to keep student residents connected while in compliance with state and county COVID-19 restrictions, Student Housing hosts virtual events to keep residents engaged.

Mayra Lopez, Reporter

CSUN’s campus is mostly empty this semester as many students continue distance learning. The dorms, however, are home to less than 1,400 students who decided to utilize campus housing this semester.
New housing protocol adds a new factor for student life, which created mixed feelings among residents.
Ana Cruz, a fourth-year student majoring in criminology, currently lives in the University Suites. Cruz described student housing as a ghost town.
Cruz said housing is normally aimed at first-year students, who prefer to live among other first time freshmen, but this year, CSUN Student Housing allows residents in all class standings to live in these accommodations if requested.
She said she only sees people walking either to the Community Center to print assignments or to get food from Geronimo’s dining hall. Cruz said that she feels lonely and reminisces about the times she had with her roommates last year.
“Last year, I dormed with three girls and I got to be close with two of them and we liked helping each other out in any way we can and I honestly miss that,” Cruz said.
An international student from Egypt studying Computer Engineering who wanted to be identified by Ahmed lives in a University Apartment with a kitchen. He said that he thinks it’s better to live alone because of his prior dorm experience.
“I don’t have to worry about my roommates keeping me up at night or worrying about them not washing their dishes or using any of my food … so I think it’s better not to have them to avoid roommate conflict,” he said.

A welcome banner outside of the CSUN University Park Student Housing complex on Lassen Street in Northridge, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (Chris Torres)

In an effort to connect students living on campus, Student Housing structured a new plan to make their residents feel welcomed and engaged during the pandemic while complying with state and county officials’ guidelines.
“I’m glad housing hosts these events because they want students to be engaged and even though it’s online it gives some sort of connection — virtually,” Cruz said.
Residential Life hosted “Housewarming” beginning on Aug. 19 — the early move-in day. Housewarming was a three-day virtual event for incoming first year and transfer students.
The event offered student panels, workshops and virtual events that were led by resident mentors to help students engage with their CSUN community.
Residential Mentor Anayaset Sandino said that even though the event was virtual this year, students were engaged and she felt she made an impact.
“I scheduled ‘Matador Mixer,’ which is an event where people were able to get to know each other and it consisted of a ‘zoom in zoom out’ method, which is similar to an ice breaker,” Sandino said.
She instructed the students to turn on their camera if certain questions related to them as a way for residents to see what they have in common with each other.
Sandino explained that usually student housing would provide residents with both residential advisors and academic mentors to serve as contacts and assist the students.
The positions were combined to create a new “residential mentor” role since there are less students living on campus this year.
Student housing provides residential mentors with supplies for small group activities, called micro events. Supplies are put in bags and left outside a student’s door so they can participate in virtual events like painting sessions.
Macro events, which involve the entire housing community, are hosted by the park council directors of each of the buildings via Zoom.
Student housing also supports affinity groups, where students are able to make connections with those who share similar interests. There are nine affinity groups: Asian/Pacific Islander Advocates, Black Girl Magic, Black Male Initiative, First to Go, Hombres Redefined, Hood Scholars, Latinas Rising, Matador Mamas and We are Pride.
Although these groups are advertised mostly in Student Housing, they welcome any CSUN student. Groups usually host events in the Multipurpose Room for students, but right now, the events are presented online.
Residents are able to find upcoming events on the Housing Engagement Calendar webpage.