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Connecticut College COVID-19 Archive

Documenting the Camel Experience

Sara Rothenberger, Residential Education and Living


Sara Rothenberger, Residential Education and Living


There has never been a time that I have seen a campus so empty and lacking it's natural vitality.


April 23, 2020


New London, Connecticut, United States


How did you feel when you were informed you would continue to work on campus while most staff are working remotely?
I am in a different sort of category - there are several of us who work in the Student Life division that live year-round on our campus. There is no other place to go home to. Though I live on campus I am working out of my home. For the first several days after the announcement we worked in our offices and around campus to execute the move-out of approximately 1650 students.

What has been your experience working on campus? What's good? What's not so good?
I have worked and lived on college campuses for the past 22 years. There has never been a time that I have seen a campus so empty and lacking it's natural vitality. The students are what make a college. We have 49 students currently living on campus in socially distant ways. The concept is so foreign to any of our experiences or best practices in the field of student affairs. Normally every day would be different - you could expect a different student to pop in to your office everyday just to say hi, or to receive guidance - you could expect to walk to many different buildings throughout the day to attend meetings, have meals and connect with students, staff and faculty. I now have converted my dining room into an office. The windows face route 32. I wonder where the traffic is coming from - where it is going. My partner is an essential employee off-campus and works a 3rd shift. I do know, not all have the ability to work from home. It has always been a unique situation to live where I work. And somehow, not being able to have a change of scenery everyday has been more difficult. I find myself noticing the progression of blooms on the trees differently than I did last spring, or the spring before.

How has the virus (and the precautions taken to prevent it spreading) impacted your daily life?
Before COVID-19 began in the US - I was scheduled for a necessary surgery In March. It was postponed to April and then postponed again until July. We continue to worry about what the effects of delaying a surgery will be - but have certainly balanced those concerns with the risks associated with being in a hospital during these times.

How worried are you about getting the virus?
Because my partner continues to work daily outside of the home, our exposure risk is a bit higher. I am a bit worried.

Do you know anyone who has gotten COVID-19?
I know people who have people close to them who have contracted the virus - but so far, no one in my immediate circle.

Are you staying in? What are you doing to pass the time?
Mostly yes, working, walking the dog, playing some virtual video games with my sister who lives in Maryland, cooking, baking, etc.

Are you going out? Where do you go and what is it like?
Only to the grocery store.

What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?
Science and technology. So many comparisons have been made to the flu of 1918. We have come so far in the fields of science and technology in the past 102 years that I am hopeful for effectual treatments and vaccines. I am also truly thankful for the connections that technology can provide. I imagine what my life would have been like if this happened when I was in college in the 1990s - the internet hadn't fully taken off - we barely had email. I am encouraged that after we have waded through this time together people might understand the value of human connection differently. We had become so reliant on technologies to connect us - know that physical human connection has been taken away - I think we can all appreciate more what is lost - and when things open up again reevaluate the ways in which we engage with one another.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about what you're feeling or experiencing right now?
I have also been thinking about the values of a residential college education. Over the past 10 years or so the traditional models of higher educations and their return on investments have been brought into question. I have heard from so many students about their current situations - they are disparate. Some have everything they need right now to continue being successful in progression toward their education - and some do not. Being on a campus together can provide greater equity towards furthering an education. We also know that there is much to be learned through engagement opportunities outside of the classroom - through the navigation of roommate and friend relationships in person.


, “Sara Rothenberger, Residential Education and Living,” Connecticut College COVID-19 Archive, accessed August 10, 2022,

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