Love is in the air, and so is COVID-19

Starting in the fall of 2020, the University of New Haven implemented policies around campus in an effort to minimize COVID-19 cases, such as restrictions to dining hall services, weekly COVID-19 testing and a stricter campus visitor policy. Some students have reported that changes to the guest policy have affected their relationships, specifically in their love lives.

The campus visitor policy reads that as long as the campus community is in a “green” standing on the COVID Dashboard, students may have one guest in their residential hall at a time, only allowed in communal lounging areas; they are not allowed in the host’s private residence. Guests must be university community members and they are not allowed to stay overnight. If students violate the policy, they are subject to penalties from the Dean of Students Office.

Riley Kolinsky, a junior psychology student and academic peer mentor in a first-year building, said that the policies have affected her relationship with her boyfriend, Giacomo Cantoni, a junior criminal justice major studying remotely at home in Massachusetts.

“Going from being able to be in each other[’s] rooms whenever we’d want to not being able to have anyone in our room was difficult,” said Kolinsky.

Junior accounting major Matthew Nello and junior criminal justice major Sam Bardelli live in the same residential hall, yet find it hard to see each other.

Nello and Bardelli spend time together in the common room of their residence hall, eat meals together and go to the gym together.

Paige Thayer and Jake Scieszko, both junior criminal justice majors, have also experienced a change in their relationship, even though Scieszko lives off-campus.

Thayer said, “I am lucky enough that he lives off campus so I am able to go over to his house to spend time together. However, we have to take many more steps and precautions to seeing each-other.”

Freshman forensic science major Jenn Tucci said that it is difficult to see her boyfriend, Tim Brogan, a senior in high school.

“Transitioning to college during the pandemic made it really difficult to make friends,” said Tucci. “He was my only support system for a while. It was frustrating that I couldn’t see him and be there for him during his senior year and he couldn’t support me when I became overwhelmed with schoolwork”

Many of the couples shared that they are unsatisfied with the current university safety regulations, but some understand why they are in place.
“As much as I would love to see adjustments to the guest policy,” said Kolinsky, “I know in my heart that they were put in place to keep myself and the entirety of campus safe.”

Cantoni said, “I understand why such regulations are needed, but if I go through all the necessary precautions, getting tested, isolating[,] etc., I shouldn’t need to go through a half-dozen extra hoops to get my visit cleared by the school.”

Nello said that he does not understand why they cannot spend time together in one of their private dorm rooms. “I think that if we are both green and everybody in both of our rooms is green and nobody has any known contacts to COVID then I don’t see why we can’t hangout more normally and I don’t get why all those policies are lifted when you are eating together.”

Tucci said she would like to see changes with red-state considerations. “My state is controlling cases, yet the school won’t take them off the red state list. This prevents me from visiting and getting my vaccine.”

Scieszko said that he feels that since Thayer and himself are both tested weekly, they should be able to see each other. Thayer said that she would like to see a more lenient visitor policy.

However, couples are finding creative ways to keep their relationships alive amid the guest restrictions.

Cantoni and Kolinsky and Tucci and Brogan said that they use video chatting devices to stay in touch. In September, Cantoni and Kolinsky took COVID-19 tests and had a weekend getaway at an off-campus hotel where they took day trips to an outdoor, uncrowded location.

Tucci and Brogan send each other care packages and letters. Cantoni and Kolinsky and Thayer and Scieszko also each participate in virtual movie nights.

“My advice to other couples,” Thayer said, “especially those in harder situations if they both live on campus is to stay strong and to be patient.”