Alternative options

Another important aspect of regulating behavior is providing alternative programming. “We have to figure out how to help students meet some of those socialization needs, but in a safe way,” Song says. Offering outdoor, socially distant activities, she says, will help schools “fare way better than just to say, ‘Hey, just don’t party.’ ”

Figuring out what a social life looks like on a college campus is Connie Carson’s job at Furman University, a liberal arts college in Greenville, S.C. As the school’s vice president for student life, she has leaned heavily on student organizations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They are the lifeblood of any campus,” she says. “Students are so much more creative, honestly, than we are.” She points to a recent outdoor movie shown on the Furman campus, where students used hula hoops to enforce social distancing.

The school is working on ways to use outdoor venues to have “appropriate gatherings” such as trivia nights or dance parties to keep students on the grounds, rather than having them tempted to head off-campus, to downtown Greenville.

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