Because of the University of Richmond’s COVID-19 safety regulations and social distancing guidelines, many outdoor campus spaces have become popular spots to eat, do homework or socialize.
Senior Grace Edmunds, who lives in the Gateway Village Apartments, said that the intramural fields almost always had people on them.
“People are always out there hanging out,” Edmunds said. “Some people are playing spikeball or kicking a soccer ball. Other people just have blankets and are either sitting down and eating, or talking or they’re doing homework.”
The intramural fields have also become a spot for people who want to work out outside instead of the Weinstein Center for Recreation, since it can be uncomfortable to work out with a mask on.
“There’s nobody in the gym,” said Nicole Vazquez, junior and member services assistant at the gym. “I’ve never seen the gym so empty on a Saturday afternoon.”
Other spaces, such as the pavilion by the tennis courts, the Eco Corridor and the path around the lake, have become hotspots for people looking to work out or run in a potentially safer environment.
The Westhampton Green is another outdoor space that is being used more often. Although the green may have been home to a couple of picnics on a nice day in previous years, now many sophomores who live in the surrounding dorms eat and socialize with friends there often, sophomore Justin Sullivan said.
In and around the Tyler Haynes Commons has been being used more recently, specifically the Pier, the Current and the area outside, where there are two white tents on either side of the second-floor entrances. It is almost impossible to find a table in the Pier at any time of day, Edmunds said. Additionally, there are usually people sitting outside of The Cellar, even when it is closed, Vazquez said.
Because of social distancing guidelines in the Heilman Dining Center, many students eat their meals in a white tent in the University Forum or on the steps of the Gottwald Center for the Sciences, Vazquez said.
“When I used to go to D-hall last year at noon or 3 p.m. when classes got out, it was completely packed,” Vazquez said. “And then this year, it’s like there’s nobody there.”
Students also use the white tents set up around campus as study spaces. The tents are set up all over campus: next to the intramural fields, inside the Carole Weinstein International Center and around the Boatwright Memorial Library, among other locations.
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The tents seem to have replaced the library as a popular study spot, which has dramatically changed with the addition of social distancing guidelines and classrooms being added in old library study spaces.
“I've noticed a lot less people are using the library, because I feel like it's more annoying to have to wear your mask while you’re doing your work,” Sullivan said. “People would rather do it on the [Westhampton] green or in their rooms.”
As the weather gets colder, it might become less desirable for students to spend time in outdoor spaces.
"Maybe people will start hanging out in common areas in dorms," Edmunds said. "I know my friends and I, even now, we’ll go into an empty classroom in B-school and just hang out in between classes."
Contact features writer Maeve McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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