By Chloe Johnson
Special to the AFRO
As a sophomore screenwriting and animation major, Reina Finch began her first year at college at home on her HP laptop. When the university announced that it would resume in-person classes this fall, she raced to move into the dorms like most incoming freshmen, yearning to experience campus life.
Finch packed the family car, drove from Laurel, Md., and waited four hours in the August heat to discover that her assigned dorm was damaged and moldy. Instead of relocating to another dorm, to her dismay she found herself in the leasing office of an off-campus apartment.
Sophomore year students, also nicknamed “froshmores” by Morgan State University administration and faculty, are undergoing a unique transition to campus this fall after spending the pandemic learning remotely.
“It’s understandable that Morgan State University wanted to get freshmen housed first,” Finch said, “but they should have housed sophomores along with the freshmen, considering [we] were not on campus last year.”
For many second-year students like Finch, entering campus after a year of virtual learning feels like becoming a freshman again.
“I know that I’m a sophomore and I have the records to prove it,” she said. “But since I didn’t start my on-campus experience last year, I feel like I’m starting from the beginning.”
Last year, Morgan State University welcomed over 1,200 freshmen, housing 450 of them with extenuating circumstances. This year, students toppled the university’s historical record for freshman enrollment and housing applications, creating a dorm shortage that has left hundreds of freshmen and sophomores living off-campus.
For some students living in Morgan View apartments like sophomore Chimdalu Offiah, the move-in process “wasn’t like the Youtube videos.”
“We couldn’t bring many people to help out because of COVID-19 restrictions, so I couldn’t say goodbye to everyone,” said the civil engineering student.
Despite the challenges, the university welcomed hundreds of students to a fully reopened campus with new facilities and improved services, for the first time since March 2020.
Offiah, like many excited students stepping on campus this semester, believes the experience was long awaited. “One of the best parts of going to university is being on campus! I really love the campus events, because even if you feel like there’s nothing to do, there’s something to do.”
Kara Turner, Ph.D., vice president of Enrollment Management & Student Success, expected a greater student enrollment this fall compared to last year, attributing the university’s careful handling of the pandemic.
“There are a number of things going on, some we can’t take any credit for, but others we can,” Turner told Inside Higher ED.
For senior political science major Daniel Chukwu, student life has been restored with sophomores joining campus. “We basically have a double set of freshmen. They are both experiencing Morgan’s campus for the first time, and that’s pretty dope,” Chukwu said.
Despite now residing 20 minutes away from the university, Finch said there are many upsides to her untraditional arrangement. “It still feels like I am getting a taste of campus living,” she said.
“I can finally meet new people and talk to my professors, in-person, about problems I have with the course work. Plus, walking to class on campus is great exercise,” Finch added.
The writer is a multimedia journalism major in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.
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