Student Life in the New Normal at St. Lawrence
As the campus nears the end of a spontaneous semester (to say the least), it’s safe to say that most community members have been through a lot over these last few months. I think it’s important to reflect upon how the university has optimistically shifted throughout these enduring times.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak last March, the world has completely changed. Apart from other major global issues, students nationwide became concerned over how their college careers would be conducted as universities were indefinitely shut down. However, I think that the community has persevered through this unique period, and I believe that the university’s policies and procedures have helped us get here.
Changes To Daily Life At SLU
With that said, I don’t think that many of us have been terribly enthusiastic over being routinely tested, constrained to our own dorms most of the time, or being temporarily quarantined due to positive wastewater tests. It can be tiring and frustrating to be so limited in a university setting. You begin to feel complacent. Furthemore, it’s difficult to find a constructive place to put that energy into. These stressful requirements can derail focus from schoolwork, keeping your mental health in check, and staying active.
Nonetheless, I believe that the student body has accommodated these protocols with little hassle. Social gatherings have been small without a need for someone to constantly monitor everything and people have been practicing social distancing, mask wearing, etc. There’s even been a couple of Java events throughout the semester. The capacity in public spaces on campus was heavily reduced, if the locations weren’t closed off, and the Pub/Dana have been operating pretty seamlessly.
I also don’t think I’m alone when I say that things that are special about Canton and campus have helped me improve myself. The small size of our community allowed me to center my focus and help me easily decide what kind of hobbies I want to pursue. I decided to join the funk ensemble and practice piano more often. It’s also encouraged me to work on improving my mental well-being. I’ve been valuing socializing with close friends more, whether it be through FaceTime or safely in person. Regardless of how you’re enrolled in school, it’s important to check in with your friends, even if it’s just a brief phone call.
Academically, I think that everyone found some difficulty in acclimating themselves, especially early in the semester. I know I have. Attempting to navigate through actual schoolwork is difficult on top of everything else happening in our world.
Fortunately, most courses have offered completely online or hybrid curriculums. Social distancing is respected during in-person meetings and sanitation is provided. Moreover, professors have done their best to make their digital landscapes feel like a normal day in class. For me, class meetings have seen a relatively normal amount of participation, so it’s not just the professor rambling into the void, and I’ve been attending “office” hours with most of my instructors consistently.
Lastly, communication with my instructors has been super transparent, especially regarding projects. I appreciate how my professors have been super flexible with their course schedules in this compromising semester. Since all of them are home, they have made it clear that they’re more readily available for one-on-one discussions.
I think that this semester has forced me to become comfortable with my individuality. A majority of the cards that we were dealt were not within our control, and it can be intimidating to make/stick to schedules and routines in such an uncertain environment. I think this semester set an optimistic precedent for the rest of the upcoming academic year. If you happen to be on campus next semester, it’s comforting to know that your semester can be conducted safely.