AUS reopens residential halls

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Coronavirus prevention posters in AUS women’s dorms (Noel Ceriani photo)

By Noel Ceriani

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH –  The American University of Sharjah residential halls are open for the Spring 2022 semester, with each building housing around 150 students and complying with the coronavirus guidelines set by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention.

The guidelines for residential halls are single occupancy rooms for all and wearing a mask at all times.

Additionally, common rooms such as games area, television and computer spaces as well as gyms are closed until further notice. In-person activities and events held by resident assistants and dorm supervisors are also cancelled. 

Many students and dorm faculty state that living in dorms this semester is different from last semester. 

“Last semester there were fewer people in dorms because of exempt students and the hybrid system. It felt less busy and there was no cleaning service,” said Malika Kaloo, AUS student and dorm resident. 

However, before the pandemic, the common rooms were open and many students would do work and play games, said Ammara Bawany, another AUS student and dorm resident.

Bawany added that she would like the television room, billiard table and the gym back as “it would keep me physically active and mentally in a good situation compared to now that everything is closed.”

“Considering the regulations now, students are not allowed to be in other rooms than their own,” said Resident Assistant Maria Frazao. 

Before the pandemic, having the common spaces open “was amazing, it helped to make friends and get work done as well as enjoy playing ping pong. Now it is all controlled, it can take away the university experience for new students but I hope we can open up dorms in a matter of time, and the dorm regulations become more flexible,” Frazao added.

Overall, life in residential halls has not been what students and faculty expected for this semester.

“AUS is doing an amazing job balancing the rules and being there for students and supporting them,” said dorm supervisor Amelia Smith. 

“Even though common areas in dorms are not open and that hinders personal activity, AUS does a great job to still make it social and have a community feel to it. Resident Assistants also try to continue the social environment by hosting online activities and events,” added Smith.