Resident Assistant Laser Shahid on coronavirus, senior year and leaving his residents

For Shahid and his residents, the news of residence halls closing brought 'a mix of emotions.'

Managing Mosaic Editor

When I met Eliezer “Laser” Shahid, I could instantly tell he was a Resident Assistant (RA).

I met him outside of Sypherd Hall, where he was an RA on the first floor. Shahid, a senior studying electrical engineering, greeted us warmly like we were new residents — though, without a handshake, because, well, coronavirus — and guided us to his room, talking enthusiastically. He seemed to have a sort of pride in his floor and community that only an RA can truly have.

His room was decorated as any dorm room would be: framed pictures of his friends goofing off, mementos and notecards taped up on the walls, posters featuring his favorite musical artists, bottles of hot sauce on top of the microwave and guitars propped up on stands (in addition to writing and performing raps, Shahid is also in the band the Zheroes).

However, there was one notable difference from a typical dorm room: most of Shahid’s belongings were stowed in boxes and bags, ready for move out.

Recently, the university issued a statement requiring students in residence halls to pack up their belongings and evacuate campus by Mar. 17. The statement was later amended to give students a longer window of time to move their belongings out. Like many other RAs and on-campus students, Shahid felt the shock and frenzy that accompanied the university’s abrupt statements.

laser shahid screenshot
Lazer Shahid, a senior RA, opens up about how he and his residents have dealt with the university’s decision to close residence halls.

“We were supposed to have a staff meeting over Zoom,” Shahid says. “The information [of residence halls closing] actually got leaked while the staff meeting was going on, but the official email did not come out until after we had finished our staff meeting.”

Following the breaking news, Shahid characterizes his residents as having a “mix of emotions.” While some students were fairly nonchalant about the news, claiming that it was not a big issue for them because they were young, Shahid says that others were concerned about being carriers of the disease and infecting their parents and grandparents.

Shahid had some reservations on going home himself.

“I started thinking my mom could get sick from this,” Shahid says. “And I don’t want to be the person who gets my mom sick.”

Still, Shahid was forced to pack up his things and leave for his home in Laurel, Delaware on Tuesday. His residents expressed much of the same anxieties that Shahid held: many of them had to coordinate ways to pack up and get home. Between impromptu plane rides and concerns about family members with autoimmune disorders, the prospect of going home became stressful. According to Shahid, talking to his residents helped both parties ease their worries.

“It helps for me to talk about my emotions with other people,” Shahid says. “I think when you talk about your emotions with other people it opens them up and you’re able to have a deep moment. That’s what I’ve been doing with my residents when I see them around the halls.”

As a senior, Shahid wishes he had more time to tie up loose ends in his college experience. While he was friends with many of his residents, there were a few that he wished he had gotten to know better and was planning on using the spring semester to develop closer bonds with his floor.

He also feels that he never had the opportunity to properly say goodbye to his friends.

“I don’t know if I’ll get to see them after this summer starts,” Shahid says. “Many of my friends are moving away, doing other things, grad school, and I won’t get to talk to them.”

Shahid also expressed disappointment over likely being unable to walk across the stage at graduation after working so hard on his degree for four years.

In spite of the loose ends, Shahid has a note of positivity for his residents to remember amidst the chaotic week.

“Stay safe, stay healthy, be responsible and be respectful of people who may be more susceptible to the virus,” Shahid says. “Like many things, this will pass.”

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