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Rebuilding Community In the English and Creative Writing Department after COVID

Being a writer is a lonely job. Being in the English and Creative writing program often means longs days of being alone in our dorm rooms in front of a computer screen making the magic happen. Pre-COVID, our department hosted a flurry of events in order for us to socialize and make friends within the department. Events were lively and full of friendly faces. Professors and students alike would show up. Then quarantine hit. The campus was shut down, clubs didn’t meet in person anymore, and events were skipped.

But it’s now 2021, and the world is trying to find its new normal. Now is the time when the department is trying to rebuild our community.

The English and Creative Writing department at Stephen F. Austin held their convocation in person, one of the first events to be held since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020. A sparse collection of students gathered to hear about the offerings of our department. News was shared between the staff and students. Looking forward, we have a departmental lounge coming in the next few semesters. We honored the students, their awards, and accomplishments that due to social distancing, we were not able to in the last year and a half.

At the end of September, the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta held a banned books event. The gathering was slimly attended. A mix of students and faculty read from books that have been previously banned. Giving an informative talk on the reasons why these books have been banned and the importance of non-censorship within the literary community. A game of Kahoot was played and prizes were won.

These kinds of events put on by our department and the organizations associated with our department are important to not only foster a sense of community but also to allow connections to flourish for networking purposes. They give students a sense of being a part of something, rather than the isolation of writing alone in a dorm room.

Arianna is Texas raised. A junior at Stephen F. Austin in the creative writing department. Having had publications in the charity chapbook Remedy of Water, the proceeds donated to the California wildfires.
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