Hoping for a return to togetherness come fall
The Editorial Board
It has been a year since our campus closed down due to the coronavirus. On March 23, 2020, La Salle President Hanycz cancelled all classes for one week in preparation to fully move to remote learning. Since then, almost half of La Salle’s sports teams have been cut, resident life has changed dramatically, clubs have made immense accommodations to their members and most importantly the education of each and every student has drastically shifted from traditional schooling to an online format. What started as a two-week-long precaution has resulted in a year-long shift to what many refer to as the “new normal.” For La Salle, mirroring the world at large, this has meant a loss in our much-valued community. With vaccines being disseminated across the country, the situation seems to be in flux and many students and members of the editorial board cannot help but wonder: where will we go from here?
This year, resident life has changed drastically, and the impact has been a lack of togetherness on campus. For example, currently, dorms have a one visitor per room policy, and the visitor must be from the same dorm building. The only place students are allowed to meet in groups are resident lounges, which have occupancy limits of five. Students have been forced to deal with massive lines outside security checkpoints when trying to get into their dormitories because they are currently required to show campus security their IDs as well as swipe into campus, making the entire process of entering their own rooms significantly longer. At this time, resident life does not seem to have any plans of lifting these restrictions this semester, leaving many to wonder what campus will look like come the fall semester. While we can only hope things will actually improve with lessening case numbers and higher vaccination rates, it seems La Salle will continue its policy of following the rulebooks of surrounding schools, which we can only hope might mean decreased regulations by August.
The online classroom landscape has also had a negative impact on community at La Salle. Many of us can picture a bustling campus mid-Monday, as students would rush across the Quad to their 12:15 classes in Hayman. On sunnier days, students would populate the Quad, drinking Starbucks or playing frisbee, while others in Wister would look on from their desks. Then, we did not know what we had, and we never imagined our watering hole would one day be gone, and we would no longer have the opportunity to enjoy our Oath Pizza by the tables on the Quad. Now, even with a handful of in-person classes, the campus no longer offers the same atmosphere. Online classrooms have an air of isolation: most students do not even put their cameras on for class or bother to learn who is on the screen next to theirs. And who can blame them? The sense of community that was bolstered by our campus atmosphere is gone, and all that remains is a shared Zoom link.
Community is an extremely important aspect of life at La Salle. We see the same faces on campus. We know our neighbors by name. With all of the changes to our University as a result of the pandemic (many unavoidable), we have lost a sense of that community. Zoom classrooms are full of strangers — black screens with audio. Dorms are private spaces. The campus is disconnected. The atomization and thinning of society that we have seen in our world has been mirrored in our corner of the world on Broad and Olney.
The La Salle we all remember may never make a full return. Even after the majority of students have vaccines, we will likely continue current campus security policies whether the student body agrees with them or not. Come next year, we hopefully will have a brighter future ahead. Hopefully, we will once again learn our peers’ names and perhaps once again welcome them into our spaces.
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