Long story short, living on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic STILL sucks. For a refresher on what it was like last quarter, Fall 2020, you can read my first update here. There have been a lot of changes, however, there are a lot of things that have stayed the same in the turn of the new year. Curious what is new and what is old? Keep reading!
So, long story long:
The dining hall is more or less the same as last quarter. The app is still annoying and visiting the halls themselves for a short five minutes is still an eerie blast from the past that isn’t really much of a blast. The Crown and Merrill dining hall is now open so those of us who live on the hill are lucky to have warm food now. Sadly though, that warm food is almost never what you ordered. While visiting the dining halls is a creepy walk down memory lane, as time goes on those memories keep fading and become less intrusive which is incredibly sad. As the one year anniversary of the last meal I actually ate inside a dining hall approaches this weekend, I miss the days where I’d spend hours on end in those green plastic chairs even more.
The classes are something that seemed to have not changed. Virtual learning stays challenging and distant. You would think that professors would’ve gotten the hang of Zoom and virtual platforms, yet that struggle still remains and I don’t think that is something that will ever go away.
We experienced a rolling move-in this winter due to the holiday surges across the state and Santa Cruz’s status in the purple tier. Even though our population has slowly doubled even into week 10, the campus still feels empty. The disconnect between separate but close human presences contributes to the unchanging energy of existing on a separate plane of existence than a year ago.
Student organizations and clubs are still trying to engage students virtually. Try and try as we might, this area remains difficult. It seems that getting students over the hump and into virtual programs and clubs after spending hours in Zoom classrooms will be a lasting challenge. Her Campus has experienced a little bit of an influx this quarter which may be a change in the students, perhaps an increased desperation for connection, even if it is virtual. Some might hesitate to think this is the case because while Her campus is having an increase in attendance, student government members are dropping like flies. I think it comes down to the kind of connection. Students might be looking for refuge from responsibility, not more. And if new responsibilities are fun, they might have more of a chance.
The bubble that disconnects each campus resident from each other and the community as a whole still stands, even with attempts to forge bridges between them. The changes made haven’t led to any improvement and improvement feels like a far-off dream, not an achievable reality. With Spring move-in approaching, I have no hope that, even if Santa Cruz emerges from the purple tier and vaccines are distributed, anything will change on campus. All that awaits us is resilience. And perhaps an update on the changes of Spring Quarter.