When President Martha E. Pollack urged students to go home in light of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, Yitzy Rosenberg ’20 – the second eldest of nine siblings – didn’t feel that returning to Miami was a feasible option.
“There’s essentially no space for me back home,” Rosenberg said.
Fearing he would pose a burden on his family if he returned home, Rosenberg, instead, wanted to spend time with friends during his last semester on the hill. He decided to remain in his co-op, Triphammer, located on North Campus.
The co-op offered the additional benefit of housing with other environmental engineers, whom Rosenberg is friends with and hopes to discuss coursework with as classes resume.
The nine members continuing to live in the house for the remainder of the semester have kept busy by playing board games, going on walks and keeping other co-op members updated on happenings around campus.
“Every Monday we Zoom in with all of our old house members that aren’t here,” Rosenberg said.
The house also upholds a strict set of rules to ensure all members’ safety as case numbers in Tompkins County rise. The group relies on Instacart or curbside pickup for their groceries and keeps to themselves.
“We’re on total lockdown. Nobody comes, nobody leaves,” Rosenberg said.
As community ties begin to fray, co-ops provide solace and sense of community for students who might not find them at home. “My family is much more in [a younger sibling] mode than they are in an older adult child mode,” said Julia Luna ’22. She has lived in Prospect of Whitby since fall 2019.
In addition to mostly focusing on her younger siblings, Luna felt her parents could not support her mental health needs. Despite these concerns, Luna plans to return home for classes.
“I think it will be hard to focus on academics in Whitby because for the past three weeks I haven’t,” she said. “I think it’s much easier to introduce a new routine in a new place. Being at home isn’t always great for me … but I think it’s necessary for me to do well in my classes”
Emma Eisler ’22, a member of the Cayuga Lodge Co-op, found that the strong community in her house and the 40 hour drive home to Menlo Park, California were enough to make her stay on campus.
“It feels important to be able to be around everyone and talk to people I care about, but I do really miss my family and friends back home,” Eisler said. “I feel really lucky to be in my co-op right now.”