The campus seems to have a little more life now with the increase of in-person classes and some restaurants reopening for the spring semester. It has almost been a year since we received the shocking news that we would not return to campus classes and would have to figure out a way to make online classes work.
On Feb. 1, classes that were originally scheduled for face-to-face or hybrid format were approved to return to campus. This was a delay of the original date, which was supposed to be in mid-January, right when the Spring semester began.
For Christian Reyna, an engineering major, being with classmates in a physical class benefits him more than any online setting could. Even though it may be convenient to be able to do it all from home, he said he focuses better and retains more information in campus classes.
“My degree is hands on,” Reyna said. “I had to get used to doing it remotely, but I think I lean more on being there in class because no one wants to sit in front of a laptop and just take notes in their room for a few hours. It’s okay though because I understand why they had to do it — they did it to keep us safe from a virus we didn’t and still don’t fully understand.”
Restaurants like Subway re-opened up their doors this semester and, with certain classes returning this semester, there has been a little bit of buzz that has returned to campus. Masks are required in every building on campus and even while walking around. Every other table is not closed off like in many restaurants but that does not stop students who are just happy to be able have lunch with their friends again.
For all of us, it was an adjustment we were not prepared for and, for some, an adjustment that was too much to handle. Many students, probably most, would agree that some of their concentration and motivation is a result of just being there and around peers with the same aspirations. Like runners, it is possible to do it on our own time by ourselves. Some just have that motivation in them already to do it no matter the circumstance. On the other hand, many people perform more efficiently when their peers are there to push them, join them and motivate them like a classroom setting would provide.
Graduations have already returned to in-person. Like the fall commencements in December, graduates were eager to wear their caps and gowns and hear their names called at FedExForum in front of their loved ones. There were two separate commencements in order to have the appropriate space to social distance several thousands of people. The administration still has not confirmed whether or not they will do that again in the upcoming ceremonies.
The previous graduation, back in May 2020, was canceled – resulting in graduates having to settle for an online commencement. Sam Jernigan is finally in his last semester, after six years as a student, and is thrilled to have the privilege to graduate in front of his family this year, all things considered.
“I think the pandemic has given me a new appreciation for being able to graduate college in front of my family,” Jernigan said. “I feel terrible for those that weren’t able to have theirs in person, so because of that, I will enjoy every moment because you never know when something so special like that can be taken away so fast, like the 2020 class.”
Students have slowly been returning to campus and found themselves congregating at the university center once more.