The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Student Sparks: Being a college student amid a pandemic

This year, returning and new students at St. John’s University have had to adapt to new changes on campus as the COVID-19 pandemic still rolls through our country. Guidelines set in place by the University this semester are meant to keep students and other community members safe, and the resulting campus looks much different than it has in the past – masked students and faculty walk around on a near-empty campus, and for many this semester feels lonelier as they navigate their social and academic lives in this new normal.

The Torch talked to some students around campus to hear their perspective as college students during pandemic.


Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Nnaeto Umobi, Sophomore 

Question: What is one thing you are looking forward to next semester?

Answer: “Being able to hang out with friends in building[s] without being separated by the social distancing guidelines and just being able to do things without having to worry about what is going on.”

Question: What do you think the University can continue to do to keep everyone safe?

Answer: “How they have the temperature checks going into Monty’s, [that] can be added to the residence halls or something of that nature to check before you go into the building.”


Torch Photo/ Sara Kiernan

Kevin Regan, Sophomore

Question: With the guidelines, what has changed for you this year?

Answer: “It is definitely different with the masks and everything, with a lot less people on campus, which makes it lonelier – but you just have to push through and get through this.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Karena Rose Rizzo, Freshman 

Question: What are you looking forward to next semester?

Answer: “Java Johnnies to be in-person and not through a live feed.”

Question: What is one thing the University could be doing to keep everyone safe?

Answer: “The questionnaire at Gate 6 should be more detailed and the answers should not just be yes/no answers, because a lot of people just say ‘no’ instead of being truthful, I feel.”


Torch Photo/ Sara Kiernan

Suprad Kafle, Senior

Question: Being a second year Resident Assistant, you came in and kind of knew the guidelines that Residence Life put in place for student safety beforehand. What would be different if the guidelines were not in place? 

Answer: “Well over the summer there was a lot of communication with Residence Life on what will be taking place and what can’t take place. So we knew there were not going to be any programs for the halls to take place in.” 

“Also, being a senior, it’s weird not having some of the big events that take place like the big ‘Red Carpet Welcome’’ event for the incoming freshman. However, everything now with the social distancing guidelines makes it a little more challenging, having campus so quiet. But classes are still going on so we have that St. John’s Mission within us. With the guidelines it is a little strict, though.”


Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Janeva Holland, Freshman

Question: What do you think the University should be doing to keep everyone safe during the pandemic?

Answer:  “Making sure that they are wiping down everything and keeping things clean every day because when I walk down the stairs in my residence hall, sometimes it is just not as clean because I will see the same wrappers on the stairs for a few days in a row.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Dawson Hughes, Sophomore 

Question: What do you miss from last year that you cannot do right now?

Answer: “Being able to hang out with friends since we cannot go room to room and see people and not having a lot of places outside to hang out with friends since they took the tent down and closed off the basketball court tent.”

Torch Photo/ Sara Kiernan

Amanda Mickwee, Freshman 

Question: As a freshman, did you come into St. John’s with expectations on what you could have done? 

Answer: “I had pretty high expectations, but I think the school has met those. I am playing soccer for the Women’s Soccer Team here so that has helped a lot.” 

Question: Are you nervous about possibly being sent home? 

Answer: “I think the school has done an excellent job with monitoring the spread of the virus so I am not too worried about that.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Eleni Likokas, Freshman 

Question: What is something you are looking forward to next semester?

Answer: “Just being able to hangout with people in the dorm rooms because you do not need to hang outside or go to the classrooms to hangout/ see them.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Alana Campbell, Freshman

Question: What do you think the University should be doing to keep everyone safe?

Answer: “I think the random testing is a good thing, but I feel they need to do it more because I have yet to be selected for the testing. Another thing is the, like, the survey thing that they do, does not really do anything and because everyone can answer any way on the survey and it takes up time without solving any issues. They can also start taking temperatures at the gates … [it could] be better than the survey. They took away outdoor seating which is kind of a problem, because it is better to have outdoor setting while a pandemic is going on.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Edward Heppner, Sophomore

Question: What is something you miss from last year that you cannot do this year?

Answer: “Being able to move around more easily without having to remember having a mask or distancing yourself from people.”

Question: Do you think the University should change something that they are doing right now to make it safer for the students and faculty?

Answer: “I think it is not good that they opened indoor dining because in many other states where this has happened there has been a spike in cases which we have already started to get around the area and kind of on campus.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Antonia LoCascio, Sophomore

Question: What do you find that is annoying that the campus is doing that you wish could change?

Answer: “Being able to have bigger gatherings in the future where all my friends from my dorm can sit at the same table in the dining hall since there is not enough chairs anymore to move everyone at one table. Also hoping that there are [less] online classes because it is harder to focus on the schoolwork being in a dorm room and not being in class trying to do the work.”

Torch Photo/ Brenden Willsch

Jonathan Wilds, Sophomore

Question: Do you think the app is safe enough to know if someone has contracted COVID-19 or not?

Answer: “I don’t think the app is truthful because it is easy to just click ‘no’ for all the questions and no one will know if you lie or not. I am commuting this year and just showing my Storm Card and answering the questions I feel is not enough and could be changed to something a bit stronger to know if someone has the virus or not. Especially with the numbers around campus rising leading the mayor to close places nearby by zip codes.”



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About the Contributors
Brenden Willsch
Brenden Willsch, Photo Editor
Brenden Willsch is a sophomore Public Relations major. This is his first year with the Torch. He started my own photography business at the age of sixteen which led to internship at the New York Yankees Triple-A Affiliate Team. Currently, he is working for St. John’s Athletics as one of the staff content creators in photography and graphic design. As the Torch's Photo Editor, he looks forward to capturing the scenes of St. John’s activities and the photographs for different stories. You can reach Brenden at [email protected].
Sara Kiernan
Sara Kiernan, Sports & Photo Editor
Sara is a senior journalism student serving as the Sports Editor & Photo Editor. She is minoring in government and politics and is a sister of Phi Sigma Sigma's epsilon omicron chapter. She has been able to take photos at some amazing places including the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden. If she is not taking photos on the court or writing, she has an iced coffee in hand with friends, walking around the city or watching any sports game that is on! LETS GO YANKEES!  Sara can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] 

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