First-year Rocco Cuttone shoots some hoops near the Stotsenberg Track with the gleam of the ocean behind him. Cuttone said he hopes he will be able to socialize on campus in the spring. Photo by Beth Gonzales
Students living on campus for the fall 2020 semester are getting used to such little campus life accessible, while they work in the parameters of what once was a bustling campus. Despite limited housing on Pepperdine’s campus due to COVID-19, Housing and Resident Life allowed students with special circumstances to reside in Lovernich, Drescher and George Page apartments.
Director of Housing Operations Robin Gore said as of Aug. 30, there were 130 students on campus, first-year, upperclassmen and graduate students included. These students are figuring out how to adjust to living on campus while managing online school.
“This is a place that is usually really busy and kind of loud,” said junior Creative Writing major Angelea Hayes from Burbank, California. “You always ran into somebody you knew. Now if I even run into one person it’s a big deal.”
Rules and Regulations
Housing and Resident Life put measures in place to make sure live-in students are safe. On-campus students said this includes daily visits from cleaning services, mask-wearing and social distancing.
Students need to complete daily wellness checks by responding to an email asking whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Students said they also have to answer COVID-19 symptom questions and provide their names each time they enter or leave school property.
The Waves Cafe, shuttle services, mail services, OneStop office and Tyler Campus Center are the only facilities these students are able to access.
Chloe McLeod, first-year Biology and Art double major, said she thinks Pepperdine holds itself to a very high standard, and if they had fewer restrictions, it would reflect poorly on the institution.
“I think Pepperdine is doing good,” McLeod said. “It doesn’t mean that I like Pepperdine’s COVID-19 rules, I don’t think anyone is enjoying them, but [Pepperdine] is doing well.”
Students said they are getting creative about how to function normally and make the most of their experience.
McLeod said she feels isolated on campus because the majority of the school is empty.
“Sometimes it feels a little bit lonely, but I know there are always people I can text,” McLeod said. “If I were to stay at home, I wouldn’t be as academically or mentally successful.”
“[Being at home] wouldn’t feel like a college campus,” Cox said. “It would be harder to focus; it would just feel like, ‘Well, I’m at home so I can just relax.'”
Cox said she has been taking advantage of the services Pepperdine provides, such as the shuttles, Sandbar and cuisine, but she is also learning skills in the kitchen to gain independence from the Waves Cafe. Cox said the Caf provides multiple meal options every day, including a vegetarian option.
Even with so few people on campus, students said they have been finding enjoyable ways to spend their time.
“My favorite thing to do has been going to the beach with a couple of friends,” McLeod said.
Students said they all are appreciating living in Malibu. Although they are finding ways to have fun, many said they are just relieved to be on-campus because their at-home experience would not have been practical.
“My family is in a transition process right now, and this is the only place I can get steady access to WiFi and a quiet place to work,” Hayes said.
Despite the circumstances, Hayes said she has been enjoying the beautiful nature surrounding Pepperdine.
“I love being outside, so being able to do the hike to the cross while looking out at the water and the campus is so beautiful and I feel really relaxed,” Hayes said. “You can kind of forget that there is all this chaos happening in the world.”
Through this experience, Hayes said she has a new appreciation for how important the community is. She misses the extracurriculars campus usually has to offer.
“It’s super weird not having a lot of the things I looked forward to on campus, like choir, convo and going to church on Sundays,” Hayes said.
Rocco Cuttone, first-year water polo player and Business Administration major from Merced, California, said he was able to live on-campus because he needs to train.
Cuttone said student-athletes are training cautiously on campus and are not able to conduct group practices.
“I have been working out with two other teammates that live on campus,” Cuttone said. “We are always six feet apart, and we wipe down any equipment we use with disinfectant spray.”
Cuttone said social life on campus is slow, and in his two weeks there, he has only met six students — usually when on the way to get lunch from the Waves Cafe.
“The most fun thing I’ve done on campus so far is shooting hoops on the basketball court near my apartment, which is nice to be able to do but I wish I could be doing things that were more college-specific,” Cuttone said.
Another athlete on campus, Nolan Lingley, first-year Business Administration major from Tracy, California, said baseball was his reason for requesting an exemption. He also looks forward to getting away from home and trying to salvage a bit of the college experience.
“I get to be on my own and independent, and I get to see some of my friends,” Lingley said. “I feel like I’m getting the college experience, just not to the fullest extent.”
Lingley said the rules for athletes are even more intense, requiring two wellness checks per day. He said the team was working out off-campus with a friend, but they just got word that they can work out on campus with their trainer.
Hope for the Future
Students on campus said they were grateful the school provided them with a home when one didn’t seem feasible. Even so, they said they are also optimistic about what the spring semester has in store, including people, and new opportunities.
“It would be nice to have safe events but events that happen in person — like an outdoor concert with groups of socially distanced households,” Cox said.
Hayes said she hopes student connections will thrive once the students are able to return to campus.
“There is a new appreciation for how important community is,” Hayes said. “With all that is going on, I think people will be more mindful of how their actions affect other people. I am hopeful for the future.”
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Beth Gonzales: email@example.com