Dickinson Students and Staff Share Mixed Reviews on Spring Semester

Deanna Findlay '22, Guest Writer

Spring has been here since March 20th but until then, the positive weather has been boosting the mood of Dickinson students. The trees are blooming, the birds are chirping, and Dickinson students meet up to socially distance on the grass as the temperatures rise into the 60s. 

Dickinson college students returned from spring break on Monday, March 20th and students sprawl onto Britton Plaza to enjoy the first days of spring; First years and sophomores have moved off campus as seniors and juniors return to campus to finish out their semesters.

Kalari Obasi ’23, says she’s feeling good because the weather has improved. However, these warm days have been long-awaited after Dickinson’s virtual fall semester. 

When asked about the start of the spring semester, there were mixed feelings from students and faculty returning to a semester on Zoom. Felicia Olaoye ’24, shared that she was excited to come because she could focus better in the campus environment.

Returning from Sabbatical last semester, Chauncey Maher of the philosophy department had his first semester teaching on zoom starting this spring. He avoided thinking about returning to classes on January 25th saying, “It’s hard to know you’re doing something that you’re not doing well and it’s hard to get used to.” He also talked about wishing classes were in-person to compliment his teaching style. 

Obasi shared the same sentiment as Chauncey in being nervous. Obasi , felt nervous about the upcoming semester but relied on the use of friends, family, and advisors to keep her grounded.

Unfortunately, plans are still up in the air for Professor Ben Edwards of the Earth Science department. He and his students had been looking forward to a trip to Iceland to supplement their studies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 67% of Dickinson’s students were traveling abroad. At Dickinson, there were trips that students could sign up for individually, like Mosaics, short trips to explore the culture of a new place, that students and professors no longer have access to. Edwards’ trip to Iceland is one of many trips that have dealt with changing probabilities due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

When asked what she with others knew about their current situation, Kalaria Obasi ‘23 said she wished professors knew “ how to delegate how much work they give, some care but some don’t know that we are on laptops 18+ hours a week.”

Ben Edwardsm, chair of the earth sciences department, said “People are doing the best they can. You can’t lower your standards too much but in the big picture we’re trying to keep people moving forward and learning some stuff.”

Associate Professor of Philosophy Chauncey Maher said “I come across as being upbeat, so it looks like I’m doing simply fine, I seem this way because I’m putting an effort to come across this way. I know what it is like to have a panic attack. I know what it’s like to be depressed. If it feels like I don’t have those problems that is not true.”

“Once people see your grade changing, they say you do not put in the effort. Should it be this hard for me? I haven’t figured that out yet,” said Olaoye.

The semester is continuing at Dickinson and there are looks to the future. Olaoye said that she is figuring out what to prioritize in her schedule as she continues her semester. Maher shares that in this pandemic, “people are coming up with creative ways of having community and being with people.”

Edwards shares that there are benefits to Zoom, including managing media in the classroom.

“When I am in a classroom, I’m looking at students but then I have to turn back and look at the board and I cannot turn around and look at students and see the map and if the tables are full.” Zoom also allows five alumni, who wouldn’t be able to participate in person, to participate in his Earth Science class.

To deal with the uncertainty of the future, students and professors have been engaging in new self-care activities. Olaoye said that she was prompted to “change something in [her] life to benefit [her] health” by her psychology professor on campus. She does this by eating breakfast daily and going to the Kline Fitness Center to work out. Maher said that his son and his wife have been keeping him strong.Edwards adds that having his cat curl up in his lap is helpful because it helps to have other living breathing things around you. 

Students and faculty all have shared that going outside has made an impact on their mood and they look forward to the warmer weather that is coming.