By Madi Cole
Well, he said it! Last Fall, many college campuses opened the dorms and began their first semesters of on-site classes since the Covid-19 pandemic. During my school’s first residential meeting, one of the speakers said precisely what everyone was thinking, “this semester is not going to be fun.”
The college years are supposed to be a unique time of self-discovery and adventure. It’s a time to grow socially, academically, and professionally. There is no parallel to the experience, and so when Covid hit and meddled with the entirety of campus life, it was hard not to focus on what was lost. No more eating in the cafeteria. No more sports games. No more in-person floor events or club meetings. College leadership placed significant restrictions on all extracurricular motivators, and social interaction was challenging to come by. Campus life came to a standstill as we all figured out how to appreciate the season of life we are in despite the drastic changes all around us.
We were told to expect restrictions as we entered our homes away from home. Students were to wear a mask in the dorms every time they left their room, even on trips to the communal kitchens or bathrooms. Students were asked not to bunk their beds out of suspicion that this would cause germs to spread easier. There was a limit to how many people could be in the lobby or the elevator at one time. In the classroom, desks were separated by six or more feet. Students were divided into “Roomers” and “Zoomers” so that there was an appropriate number of students physically in class or joining online every given day. Meals were packed into takeout containers, and plastic dividers went up on every table left on campus. Paranoia and fear walked the grounds as hope, community, and joy felt banned.
Despite the new rules and limitations, however, the declaration, “this semester is not going to be fun,” turned into an intriguing challenge for college-age students. Fun certainly looks different than what it did in previous semesters, but to insist that it can not and will not exist during a season of change is to adopt a mindset of defeat. Humanity is resilient! Change has always been and will always be a constant; the changes that accompanied the Coronavirus are no different. Great joy still exists. It is up to the individual to choose to look for joy in new places or decide to live without and become bitter because it is not in the same places as before.
Life amazingly still went on amidst the new lists of “can’ts” and “don’ts.” Students began to create new rituals and invented fun ways to interact. Our community became unified with the common desire to maintain joy. More individuals began to use art as an outlet than had in the past, making the dorms a beautiful place. Students were determined to pursue hope and created weekly activities to look forward to, like ice-cream and Netflix parties with their roommates. We found new coffee shops around the city and places to explore outdoors than in previous years. Year-long “Secret Santa” and note exchanges united floors. We baked like it was a newly discovered art form and delivered cookies to all. We squinted our smiles across the hall and never stopped adapting.
I do not want to sugarcoat the changes and struggles Covid-19 brought to campus life. There were undoubtedly disappointments, but we are resilient, and we have overcome. There is hope, there is joy, and yes, there is even fun to be found. College students cannot wait for the freedom of their college years to be restored, but until then, we will not stop creating, hoping, and overcoming.
Editors Note: Madi Cole is a junior in college.