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COVID impacts student life on campus

Ashton Fried enters his apartment at Chamisa Village on campus. (Photo by Brandon Mangum/Kokopelli)

The coronavirus pandemic has left a long-lasting impact on everyone on the campus of New Mexico State University. Ashton Fried, an on-campus resident at NMSU, notes that the campus atmosphere is different than in years prior.

“There’s not people congregating in the patios or congregating outside their buildings, so you can’t just walk down out of your room and see one of your friends down the hall,” Fried said. 

Part of the appeal of living on campus are the events that occur throughout the day. With fewer events for students to attend during the pandemic, some are starting to grow disgruntled.

Mathew Madrid, president of the Associated Students of NMSU, indicated some students are upset about the lack of on-campus activity.

“Some people are upset, understandably so, that there’s no events, that there’s fewer ways that — in their mind — that there is to take advantage of the tuition and fees they pay every semester,” Madrid said. 

With no end in sight to the COVID pandemic, organizations like ASNMSU have had to re-evaluate how on-campus programming and events can be implemented.

When the spring semester began in late-January, NMSU’s student government held a grab-and-go tabling event. Students were able to receive a grab bag, which included blue light glasses, masks and more. The event was an overwhelming success for ASNMSU.

For other student organizations on campus, success has not come easily. Fried is a member of the Design, Build, Fly (DBF) group on campus. He explained that during the pandemic, the organization has seen a drastic decline in membership, which has hindered the group’s ability to potentially partake in future competitions.

“When I was a freshman, when I first joined, there was probably 40 members,” Fried said. “Right now, we have five, and that includes the exec members who run it. Right now, we’re looking at where we can compete because we don’t have the member core to put into building this aircraft and designing and writing the report.”

Recruiting new members has also been tricky for DBF. Posting promotional posters in Jett Hall was once the club’s main means of advertising, but such posters are now ineffective with online classes. The organization has been able to advertise through an engineering department list for students, but the effects have been minimal.

ASNMSU has faced similar recruiting challenges this year, and with ASNMSU Senate elections just around the corner, President Madrid simply said “it’s been difficult.”

The lack of the Roadrunner Internship program, an ASNMSU initiative to introduce freshmen students into the program, along with Zoom fatigue, has made it difficult for ASNMSU to engage potential members to join the student government next year.

The organization, however, plans on utilizing another strategy to bring new members into the group and to raise awareness about programs, both virtual and in-person, via social media.

For Madrid, the future looks bright for on-campus programming. “Even though my term will end in May, we are committed to setting the groundwork now, so that way when we do return to an environment where we can have those things and facilitate students getting together and seeing their friends, we’ll be ready,” Madrid said.

As for Fried, with campus life being much different than the usual pomp and circumstance, he looks at life on the bright side.

“I like living on campus because I’m close to the people that I can get help from if I need to,” Fried said. “My support system is definitely here in Cruces versus in Albuquerque, and so I think that’s one of the reasons.”

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