BYU students deal with stunted social lives due to housing COVID-19 rules

Students living in BYU approved housing are swapping out social environments for ones that leave them feeling isolated. (Sydnee Gonzalez)

COVID-19 has changed the lives of BYU students in many ways, but one of the most noticeable is the social life in BYU-approved housing.

Over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, many students living both on and off campus have seen new types of regulations in order to minimize sickness throughout their apartment complexes. These regulations have impacted regular activities, often stunting the social lives of the students that live there.

Lillie Brockbank, a freshman in her second semester at Heritage Halls, has seen the ways COVID-19 restrictions have changed her first year at college. She wanted to live on-campus for social reasons.

“I think the restrictions have definitely made things different. The biggest thing is that we haven’t been able to interact with the other girls on our floor,” Brockbank said. “I feel like there would normally be an opportunity to get to know everyone but because of the restrictions it feels very isolated to just me and my roommates.”

As the pandemic drags on, isolation can make it hard to live away from home. Many students choose to live close to campus to not only to easily attend class, but also to meet other students. With a newfound fear of sickness, many avoid social situations.

Hailey Kim, a junior majoring in genetics, said her off-campus apartment complex lacks restrictions which makes it harder to feel safe. “When I walk by apartments, I feel like it’s just as social as it was before COVID-19. I literally don’t hang out with people anymore, Kim said. “It’s really hard. I know who’s going to activities, and I know that they’re hanging out with people in ways that are likely to spread the virus.”

Students seem to feel isolated both by restrictions that feel too strict and restrictions that feel too loose.

Olivia Anderson, a senior majoring in finance, feels her apartment has turned into a ghost town. She said before the pandemic people would gather in the common rooms or play volleyball or basketball together. “Now, I only see people that are walking to take out the garbage.”

Many still find connection virtually through video calls or social media, but lack the oppourtunity to have face-to-face interactions more regularly. These interactions are hard to replace, and it is still unclear what lasting impacts they will have.

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