‘No motivation’: Students voice opinions on Pitt’s shelter-in-place


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Heinz Chapel and the Cathedral of Learning.

By Colm Slevin, Senior Staff Writer

Sophie Kempler thinks that while Pitt’s shelter-in-place protocols could be improved, they’re better than nothing.

“I think they’re trying, and we love that,” Kempler, a sophomore psychology major, said. “But I think that the shelter-in-place is not restrictive enough to actually prevent the spread of COVID.”

Pitt announced during winter break that the first two-and-a-half weeks of classes would be online and that Pitt would follow shelter-in-place guidelines — which moved most student life online — until this Thursday. With the end of the week approaching quickly, many students like Kempler are experiencing a range of emotions as they navigate the pandemic and college life.

Haley Trippel, a first-year neuroscience major who lives in Nordenberg Hall, said her move-in experience this semester has been very different, and that the rules in the residence halls are fairly strict. On-campus student arrival this semester was phased, limiting the number of people moving in at once. Pitt also required that each student living in the residence halls submit a COVID-19 test.

“We’re not allowed to go into each other’s rooms, but people break that. You have to wear a mask outside of your room,” Trippel said. “And they currently have the study lounge locked, and we’re not allowed to congregate in the normal lounge either.”

Even with the cold weather, some students are more than happy to walk to class over attending them in bed. Kempler, who lives off campus, said she has lower motivation working online and would rather be in person.

“My first year of college I did not mind online classes, but after going in person and then transitioning back to online [has] definitely [made] it a lot harder,” Kempler said. “I have no motivation to do things except on certain days, like spurts of motivation. But other than that, I feel it’s really restricting and just kind of makes you tired and want to stay in bed.”

Clara Donahue, a sophomore environmental studies major who lives in Panther Hall, said she supports Pitt’s decision to shelter-in-place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to get back in person as quickly as possible.

“I feel like it’s safer to like shelter for two weeks than to just let everyone run wild and get each other sick when we just got back,” Donahue said. “I feel like they’re doing the right thing right now. I think it would be like the wrong thing to keep us on Zoom.”

Donahue said while the guest policy in the residence halls recently changed, she isn’t too sure of how it works yet.

“We weren’t allowed to have guests until like a couple of days ago, and now I think we can have guests if they’ve been tested,” Donahue said. “If they’re on a list of people who’ve been tested, but I don’t really know how that works.”

Kempler said she supports a hybrid model of classes, since COVID-19 cases are still high due to the Omicron variant and people will need to quarantine. But she feels some students need in-person classes to succeed academically.

“Right now I think the most important thing is offering a hybrid model for classes and to give people the option to feel safe in their own homes and their own dorms,” Kempler said. “But also give people the option to reach their full potential in in-person classes.”

Donahue said even though she thinks the hybrid model is a good idea, she wouldn’t attend in person because of the ease of online classes.

“I feel it’s hard because that is a good idea, but I also feel like I wouldn’t go to class,” Donahue said. “I’d say I want to go to class, but if we were hybrid I wouldn’t go in person.”

Kempler said she’s experienced a lack of communication between professors and students about in-person classes.

“My professor in my class today said, ‘This time next week, I’ll see your faces in person.’ So I guess that gave me a little bit of hope,” Kempler said. “But other than that, they haven’t even mentioned it. I think they are under the assumption that we’re going back in person. And I guess that if it’s up to them, then we will, but nothing [is certain].”

Even during the shelter-in-place period, some students are still hitting the streets of Central and South Oakland, attending parties regardless of mask mandates or campus guidelines. Trippel said people shouldn’t be too nervous about being in person even with the local social scene.

“I think it’s fine. I feel like if you’re really nervous about COVID, and you don’t want to go out and stuff, that’s cool,” Trippel said. “You should probably sit far away from other people in class. I don’t really mind it. I feel like last semester, a lot of people went out and there were never really any issues.”

On the other hand, Kempler said she’s concerned about nightlife. Even if she skips out, she knows parties are still happening and likely spreading COVID-19 through the student body.

“Nightlife definitely makes me more worried. Not to the point where I’m not gonna go out and have a social life,” Kempler said. “But it definitely increases the spread of COVID and people are definitely going to be coming to class with COVID, especially if they’re not offering an online option.”

Donahue said she doesn’t want to go out until the shelter-in-place is over, and she wishes other students wouldn’t go out either, at least for now.

“I haven’t gone to South Oakland since I got back from break or to any big parties outside of the dorm that I’m in because I don’t want to risk it until shelter-in-place is over,” Donahue said. “I would feel better if other people were doing that too. But I mean, when shelter-in-place is over, I don’t really care that much.”