Fall 2021Special Edition

Ghosts of COVID past, present and future

COVID precaution posters across campus (Audrey Davis/The Trail)

Campus community perspectives

If you could go back to the beginning of the pandemic what is one piece of advice you would give yourself?

Isiaah Crawford (University President):  “Having greater faith and trust in science, not trying to out guess… Maybe giving a little more grace to oneself and each other. Grace and remembering… there is truth to this too shall pass. Have faith things will get better, and they do.”

Harris Watson (1st year):  “Go for lots of walks, call friends often. The clichés are cliché for a reason.”

Reuben Fellman (1st year): “It’s going to last a lot longer than we expect it to.”  

Patch Gleason (3rd year): “Wake up and first thing in the morning do something productive. The first step, the first part of the day, determines how you use the rest of the time.” 

Savanna Smith (3rd year): “Engage in activities that bring you joy, not ones that make it look like you’re having a good time.  I did a lot of things that made it look like I was enjoying myself rather than truly having passion.”

Bailey Gamel (Alumni ‘21): “Know that it is going to be ok. I was halfway through my junior year and I was totally alone. I used to come in here for food because they let us come back here for food and it was just totally empty–all the tables were gone. That was so lonely. I am an extrovert, I can’t go long periods of time without being around people.”

Julian Finholm (2nd year): “Something that I tell myself often nowadays is that do the best you can with what you have, because you’re gonna screw up anyways you can’t control everything” 

Oskar Batho (1st year): “It will be over eventually. It really didn’t feel that way like in the middle of last year.”

Jackson Visser (4th year): “Just take it easy. We’re in such a different place now, than when it started. There’s been a lot of change, and at first it was really tough… accepting that.” 

Prof. George Erving (Professor of Honors, Humanities, and English): “To not assume this is going to be over in a few months. I don’t think I realized how long it would play out and the effect that the duration would have on the psychology of everybody.” 

 

What is something that you want to leave behind after all of this? What is something you have learned from this time that you want to continue to carry with you?

Reuben Fellman (1st year): “I think during the pandemic the world became a lot less ableist because accessibility became an issue for everyone, not just disabled people.”

Harris Watson (1st year): “I went from using social media a bunch, like excessively, to having all these other things to do and not using social media as much. Then realizing that, from the steep decline in social media usage how much happier I was without using social media.”

Tyler Weir (4th year): “I’m kind of glad that people are kind of accepting that ‘oh I am sick I shouldn’t go to class.’”

Kelsy Brson (4th year): “When I came back to campus everyone was a lot nicer and more inclined to try and make connections with people. It taught a lot of us to value that and to be excited to meet new people, in a way I think that people were a little jaded about before.”

Patch Gleason (3rd year): “It used to be that if I had spare time I would spend it doing something purely recreational because all my other time was taken up by all productive things, but now I know things to do to help me build skills during my free time.”

Savanna Smith (3rd year): “Prioritizing connection and relationships that fuel me, not take away from my well being. Don’t put in effort with surface level connections, go deeper if that’s something you really want to do.”

Bailey Gamel (Alum ‘21): “I think how powerful community can be. We saw that with Tacoma mutual aid, we saw that on campus with students taking care of each other really going above and beyond. I hope we can keep up that trend going forward. Let’s just help each other out. Life is hard,(sic) doesn’t have to be that hard if we are all together.”

Jackson Visser (4th year): “I got a lot more in touch with my emotions. Normally, I’m just busy with stuff, you know interacting with people, doing things, not having to…deal with a lot of that. With COVID happening all of a sudden, I think it forces anyone to kind of be a little more introspective. And I think that’s something I’ve gotten out of all of this.” 

Noah Candelario (1st year): “What I’m really proud about is, during COVID, that I really increased my discipline in certain things. I was never much of a reader. Yeah, I never read that many books when I was little. But now I’ve, you know, I went back and gave it a try. I really started to enjoy reading books. I just completed two books in one month.”

Ainsley Feeney (1st year): “I haven’t gotten a cold or anything since I started wearing the masks, so I think wear your masks even if you’re sick like outside of the pandemic. We should make masks a normal thing.”

Prof. George Erving (Professor of Honors, Humanities, and English): “To not take for granted the opportunity that is college. To be with a bunch of other people who are at your stage of life. To not have a boss, to not have a mortgage, to not have a lot of responsibilities that are coming down the road, and to be in this place where people like talking about ideas. Which is harder to find in the work world.” 

 

What emotions are we experiencing from expectation of normalcy?  

Harris Watson (1st year): “I just find that I was much more involved with things before the pandemic and now I’m just kind of tired a lot of the time. My social battery depletes faster.” 

Patch Gleason (3rd year): “A lot of stress. I feel like I can’t perform as well as I did before the pandemic”.

Savanna Smith (3rd year): “I feel like, especially on the education side, we are all kind of required to go back to the exact same way that we used to learn and perform within the classroom without true recognition that we haven’t learned properly in over a year and a half.”  

Oskar Batho (1st year): “I feel like it feels less normal than it is, and the absolute return to normality that the school is enforcing is a little overbearing in ways. Like it would be nice if our classes were recorded still; they were… throughout COVID, so like I’d imagine the infrastructure is still there.”

Tyler Weir (4th year): “A lot of hope. It sure seems like things are getting better, I’m thrilled to be back on campus and I feel like a lot of people feel the same way.”

Bailey Gamel (Alum ‘21): “It’s stressful but kind of exciting, it’s an opportunity to rebuild and do things differently than we used to.” 

Ainsley Feeney (1st year): “I’m so excited! I’m really excited. I’m in a play right now and actually getting to do rehearsals and actually getting to interact with people, even if we are wearing masks and knowing that I’m going to be able to perform in front of a group of people, that’s super exciting to me.” 

Prof. George Erving (Professor of Honors, Humanities, and English): “We are seeing a higher level of social anxiety. More students are seeing social anxiety at more severe levels than before. More insecurities and different kinds of mental health issues.”

Isiaah Crawford (University President): “I think we are all very, very excited and pleased to be back here in a community…  And I think comes with the excitement… some anxiety.  You know, we were socially distanced from one another in many respects… and we’ve had to go through a kind of process of resocialization… I think we all just need to be patient with one another.” 

Lorna Hernandez Jarvis (Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity): “I’m going to start by saying that as much as all of us would like to say that we’re back to normal, there is no such thing.  I think culturally what’s happened to all of us is a historic event, and that includes both the COVID pandemic as well as the racial pandemic that we’ve experienced in this country… We’re all different, we have all been changed and transformed by what has happened.  And we’re struggling I think, as a society in general.” 

 

Considering the pandemic and everything else that has happened in the world, what words would you use to describe this moment?

Kelsy Brson (4th year): “Suspiciously normal. You can’t really keep it in your mind all the time. I think after a certain point in time it reached its own state of weird normalcy… I wonder, when people look back, how much of what we’ve changed is going to be normal then. They probably won’t be the same as us before this, wondering what was it like when you all did this, we’ll probably culturally have masks be incorporated more, like if you’re sick or wearing them around during flu season.”

Jackson Visser (4th year): “I think it’s going to be interesting, like at what point do we just decide, ‘ok, that’s enough; people who are vaccinated are ok to travel, and go back to normal…and people will die.’… It’s going to be interesting to see when society decides it’s time to, y’know, flip the switch. ‘Cause once you flip it, it’s going to be hard to go back… you’ve been telling everyone to wear masks, stay safe; that’s good advice; it’s gonna be hard to tell people ‘alright you’re good now’. That’s a rough transition.”

Bailey Gamel (Alum ‘21): “It still is very negative. A lot of people have died, a lot of people have lost jobs, a lot of bad stuff has happened. It’s our generation’s world war two.” 

 

Where have you seen growth and change, both in yourself and in a wider context?

Tyler Weir (4th year): “I realized how much it sucks to really be on your own when you don’t really have a choice. I’m taking advantage of all the social opportunities that I can.”

Bailey Gamel (Alum ‘21): “Before the pandemic I was so focused on my career and I wanted to live in all these big cities but now I’m like f*ck that, I want to be around people that I care about and who care about me.”

Patch Gleason (3rd year): “I feel like it was cool when I got back on campus… Everyone was really excited to be back on campus. That was kinda nice. There was this feeling of solidarity– we are finally being back; we are finally doing things.”

Julian Finholm (2nd year): “I’ve gone through a lot of stuff… so I guess just like seeking help and seeking reasons to keep going.”

Oskar Batho (1st year): “It’s been interesting… I feel like I’ve both changed a lot… and not changed at all. Which is like, I feel like I never got feedback on things. Like I feel like I changed myself and then the world responded in a way where you don’t see it.”

Khaled Al-Rashidi (4th year): “A few of my friends have gained that kind of thing where it’s just like, you were never afraid of this before now like you are and I feel like just that setting for some people is still affecting them now. And I guess all I can do is just be there and help them.”

Prof. George Erving (Professor of Honors, Humanities, and English): “I’m really heartened to see how excited students are to be back. To be in the classroom, to want to be together. That’s great to see that people haven’t been inured to a sort of asocial mindset. That there is still that desire to come together and talk about things and to learn.”