Since the pandemic started, students have been engaging with digital communication to stay connected with friends and family while also trying to be as safe as possible. Along with that, and because of Albion College’s new Together Safely protocols, students are gathering in person less.
Students are feeling the difference that this social change makes.
“I never see anyone anymore, and the lack of physical social events is completely isolating,” said Bailey Burbank, a junior from Clearfield, Utah. “Additionally, the module system keeps me so busy that I hardly ever leave my dorm.”
Students feel as though screens cannot replace human-to-human contact and connection. They believe there is value in social events not being socially distanced and professors hosting in person office hours.
“It is pretty hard to feel connected when it is impossible to socialize correctly in public settings on campus,” said Lyndsey Moore, a senior from Kingsford. “Meetings with professors over zoom or meet do not help answer questions I have on topics that require step-by-step calculations which are hard to describe over video or chat.”
Students also believe the personal connection between counseling services and those who need support is lacking.
“Counseling Services is entirely online, making communication between myself and my counselor less frequent and less beneficial,” said Moore. “It is hard talking to someone when important moments are interrupted by glitchy screens and staticky conversations.”
Meeting new people and connecting with old friends is harder now that access to dorms and eateries are looking different this year.
“I feel like there are less opportunities to meet new people on campus, especially for me,” said DeAvion Zoldyck, a senior from PlainField, Ill. “It’s harder to eat with your friends when your only options are eating outside or in a dorm when that’s not really comfortable for everybody.”
Students have also expressed concern about the changes in social events on campus with the Together Safely protocols. Additionally, students feel that they are much busier now with the heavy course load of the module system.
“I am always busy to the point I really have no time to do anything besides homework, work and room maintenance,” said Leiyah Denson, a senior from St. Clair Shores.
Other students feel a similar way.
“All my friends are busy with class, homework and work, and I have so much work to do too that I don’t really see them,” said LaRhonda Richardson, a senior from Village. “And I live in a different building, and we can’t go inside other buildings we don’t live in, so unless I see them outside, I don’t see them.”
The new normal protocol has taken away from many traditional social events, including more intimate events that occur in Greek life.
“I’m in Greek life, and I don’t see my sisters nearly as much as I should be able to. Our meetings are virtual, which takes away from the professional experience, all events have to be social distanced. It’s sad,” said Nicole Young, a senior from Albion. “I honestly never felt more alone at school than I do now.”
Students are missing things that seemed so simple before COVID-19 such as collaborating with peers in class.
“In my intro to philosophy class, there’s no group work or partner work. It’s just ‘do the reading and take quizzes and write the essays.’ That’s it,” said Juan Martinez, a sophomore from Chicago. “It’s just ‘do the reading, take the quizzes and write essays.’ No discussion.”