2020 has not been a good year for mankind. After the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a public health emergency in late January, everyday life began to change until social interaction was stalled and even put on hold in many countries across the globe. In the United States, this has also extended to the many colleges and universities that are scattered throughout the land. In addition to classes adjusting to accustom students who chose to study remotely, student activities and get-togethers on campus were also affected. While most social interactions have moved to online formats such as Zoom, other get-togethers that have opted to remain in person now encourage social distancing, keeping attendees at least six feet away from each other and organizing games that take advantage of long distances, such as corn hole.
As a new student who recently transferred to Pacific University, I have attended events both in-person and remotely, and from the interactions that I have seen and taken part in, it appears as though a majority of students prefer to host get-togethers remotely. Because of COVID-19, in-person get-togethers are much more restrained than they were in the past, and the fear of infection is always on the back of everyone’s minds, even while wearing face masks. Additionally, due to the subdued atmosphere and a decrease in attendees, many students often seem bored and uninterested, preferring to engage with their electronic devices instead of each other. Conversely, meetings that are hosted on online platforms seem to act as a security measure for many students who attend them. Aside from having a fun experience in the safety of their residences, students are able to adjust their privacy settings on their computers or tablets when needed, in case of a quick retreat. On top of that, hosting a party digitally allows for a potentially bigger quantity of attendees, due to many students choosing to remain home instead of living in the dorms.
Although remote classes and social gatherings may be dominant in the near future and possibly the new year, living on campus and even exploring the university shouldn’t be ruled out completely. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made socializing in person difficult, choosing to live near or on campus in one of the universities’ buildings is still living away from home, an experience that is a must-have for students who have begun their journey into adulthood. Unorthodox it may be, but COVID-19 has also provided learning opportunities for on-campus students that weren’t explored before, such as how to cope with isolation while living independently, as well as how to manage health and watch for symptoms of illness. It’s clear that COVID-19 has brought a new way of living to humanity. It’s up to us to decide how we wish to utilize these lessons. — Max Pennington