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Tone is set for an unusual year

Students moving into their accommodations at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) was a routine sight this past week, but that process was — and day-to-day life in the school year ahead will be — infused with the unusual due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

H-SC Director of Communications & Marketing Gordon Neal said given the uncertainty amidst the pandemic, students were encouraged to cut back on the items that they would typically bring with them during a normal semester.

He noted they were also given a checklist of both required and recommended items to bring with them this year, including necessary supplies for daily symptom checking, personal health, personal wellness and even a camping chair for outdoor classroom opportunities.

Neal stated that Resident Assistants (RAs) are some of the most important leaders on campus and will have key responsibilities in helping students navigate college life during the pandemic. Information sharing will be critical to their roles in the residence halls.

“Given the challenges we are all facing, RAs will be adhering to the rules and regulations set by the college and the commonwealth regarding health and safety practices,” Neal said.

He added that when feasible, RAs will find opportunities to meet in person with their residents in settings where social distancing and other health and safety measures can be assured.

“RAs have gone through extensive training on the current health and safety guidance, and administrative staff will be continuing to work closely with RAs in many ways, including the facilitation of hall meetings,” Neal said. “For a variety of reasons, there is great value in face-to-face interactions in residence life, and we will continue to help facilitate these relationships in a manner consistent with our precautions.”

He also highlighted how RAs’ responsibilities include enforcement of pandemic-related rules and leadership beyond that.

“RAs play an important role in modeling appropriate behavior and setting an example for their peers by ensuring that they themselves and their residents are following the expectations required of all students, including the health and safety protocols set by the college and by the commonwealth,” he stated. “However, their leadership does not stop simply at rule enforcement.

“Our students, including RAs, all share the responsibility of inspirational leadership: inspiring others to do what is necessary for the health and well-being of our entire community. This has always been the standard for the men of Hampden-Sydney, but it is even more apparent today.”