The reality of returning to a college campus during a pandemic is this—it’s exhausting. I’m not the only student who feels this way.
Pacific took the necessary steps to bring students back to a physical campus: testing all students, requiring masks, creating a hybrid model of in-person and Zoom classes, etc. With these measures, I feel safe on campus. It appears that Pacific is doing all they can to ensure student safety.
But despite Pacific’s efforts to create a safe and welcoming space for its students, the campus feels foreign. It has nothing to do with how the college is handling safety. It’s the reality of going to school during COVID-19. Campus life just isn’t the same. No amount of virtual Zoom events can amount to what students are lacking, and what they’re lacking is connection. Not just to each other but to the campus.
Pacific checks all the boxes for ensuring students’ physical safety, but what about their mental health? The measures on campus are necessary but feel impossible to live up to for an extended period of time. Thinking about COVID-19, politics, or how I should interact with someone is inescapable when I’m on campus. Students are confronted by the pandemic with every arrow directing the flow of traffic, every banner declaring six feet of distance, every isolated table. It doesn’t feel like living. It feels like existing in a bubble.
In the past, I looked forward to going to campus. Now, I can’t wait to escape.
My home has become a place of refuge from the virus, politics, and just about everything else. But I wonder about the students living in dorms, who don’t have that space of complete relief. Will the student body start experiencing mask fatigue? Will students become apathetic to Pacific’s measures after a few months? I already see the fatigue in my peers. Or maybe that’s just our senioritis. I have hope that the student body and the nation can work together to fight the spread of COVID-19. But as the months drag on, I wonder just how committed we are to that goal. — Hannah Kendall
Photo: The statue of Boxer outside Vandervelden wearing a face mask is just one new sight on campus due to the COVID pandemic (Barry Johnston)