The inside scoop on life in Baker

Life outside of Baker Hall is not much more fulfilling than life inside Baker


Like every other Washington and Lee University student, I readily traded in my freedom to return to campus this fall.

I quickly became accustomed to eating my meals out of a box, wearing a mask everywhere, seeing most of my friends from a distance, and attending almost every class via Zoom. My housemates and I followed the rules in exchange for the luxury of campus life, including lunches at Hillel, picnics on the Colonnade, weekend hikes, and living together.

Then, two weeks ago, my roommate tested positive for COVID-19.

All twenty of my housemates and I were suddenly ripped out of our normal routines to live in isolation. Within an hour of receiving the news, I was asked to move into Baker Hall because I was a close contact. I packed in a panic, wishing I could go home but not wanting to risk my family getting sick or spreading COVID-19 on a plane.

I felt like I was the disease. My friends couldn’t hug me goodbye when I left our house, and the Public Safety officer couldn’t help me carry my bags to my new room. I arrived to an alarmingly empty room, equipped with only a micro-fridge, desk, mattress on a bed frame, package of bed sheets, and PPE kit. Thankfully, I immediately called a friend to drop off my pillows and bedding — because I was not given a blanket until eleven days later.

I proceeded to test negative three times over the course of the fifteen days I spent in Baker.

Most of the days began to mesh together as I followed a lonely and strict routine. Every day I attended my zoom classes, did homework, ate, watched TikTok, went to bed, and then repeated it all again the next day.

A few of my friends were also in Baker, though I was not allowed to hang out with them. I tried to FaceTime friends when I had time, but it’s different from in-person interaction.

The things I missed the most became things I hadn’t even realized I had been taking for granted: the comfort of my mattress pad, the ability to do laundry, the option to pick my meals and mealtimes, and the freedom to see my housemates and go to the gym.

Although spending two weeks in isolation is not ideal, I did my best to take the opportunity to get ahead on my schoolwork and maintain a positive attitude. The extra alone time afforded me the ability to dedicate more time to studying, participating in (virtual) extracurriculars, starting a new book, and improving my sleep.

However, isolation made it difficult to maintain a clear head. With isolated walks as my only option for physical exercise, I was often anxious. The greatest anxiety became the thought that I could test positive for the virus and extend my isolation period. Or worse, I could be released only to later be sent back for an interaction with a different positive person.

I understand the reasoning for my time in isolation and I am glad I was able to maintain a positive outlook throughout it, but I think that something on campus does need to change. A year ago, being committed to isolation would have been intolerable. My experience then suggests that life outside of Baker Hall is not much more fulfilling than life inside Baker Hall.

The morale on campus is low, and at some point we will have to choose between our physical and mental health. I hope we choose the latter.