Reopening Campus During a Pandemic: A First Year’s Perspective

Amanda Wampler '24, Guest Writer

The question of, “Will we go back on campus in the spring?” is one that bears a lot of weight right now. With only weeks away from a decision, Dickinson students are looking at the pros and cons of the different options and voicing their opinions to professors, other students, and through a recent survey. As a first-year student who has never set foot on campus, not even for a tour, this decision is one that I am anxiously awaiting. I never imagined this is how my first year of college would play out, and the thought of this continuing into the spring is hard to imagine. At this point, I would take any restrictions put in place if that meant we could move to campus.

Do not get me wrong, I think that as far as an online semester goes, this semester has been good. I am enjoying all my classes and I am happy to be back in school. The pivotal weeks of school when first years are setting up friendships and making friend groups, however, cannot be replicated in online school. The social aspect of college is almost non-existent, which can make other aspects seem more difficult. The workload, for example, is almost too much to bear when there is no social life to balance it out. It is exhausting being on Zoom all day for classes, so setting up Zoom calls or FaceTime calls that are supposed to be fun and social just feel like . 

Like I previously said, any choice that gets us onto campus is a desirable choice in my eyes. The ideal way would be to start late, a little past the flu season, and bring everyone back. Whichever reopening plan is chosen, I hope that Dickinson gives every student the option to go or stay home, whichever they feel safest doing. The survey sent out to students was a wonderful way for the administration to get an idea of student opinions, what options we like, and for students to be heard.

Though I would love to be back on campus, my main hope is that the decision made in the next few weeks sticks. What would be harder than being told that we cannot go to campus is being told we can go to campus, just for the decision to change in late December or January. Though complications with a reopening plan are expected, it would be frustrating and difficult to cancel travel and hotel plans if Dickinson’s plan changes last minute.

This semester has been difficult for everyone, but I believe that being on a restricted, reopened, campus would help the greatest number of students. I appreciate the willingness of Dickinson to put student safety first and keep us home, but for the second semester, I hope that plans are made to bring some, if not all, of the student body back.