Returning to Campus in the Midst of a Pandemic
Hooray for a successful — and safe — return to Beloit! We are coming upon our fifth week on campus, and it appears that students and staff are doing an excellent job of maintaining social distancing. When asked about social distancing practices, sophomore student Sarah Aldridge, who is employed at the Powerhouse states that, “For the most part, students social distance,” and that campus, “seems pretty safe.” However, she also points out that students who are “roommates or super close to each other” are less likely to practice social distancing because they figure that they “are going to be around each other anyway.”
I am told that campus conduct is vastly different from pre-pandemic semesters. I sought out upperclassmen to weigh in on what freshmen — like myself — are missing out on due to the pandemic. Jordyn McDonald (‘22), was eager to share some experiences that freshmen will, unfortunately, not get to have during the pandemic. She emphasizes how different the social scene on campus is in result of the pandemic, claiming that “wall parties, frat and sorority parties, and C-Haus” are a few things that are missing from the full experience of campus life this year. Not only has the Beloit College party scene been impacted by COVID-19, but many classes and most clubs are currently only meeting via Zoom. Stacey Jaeger (‘21) believes that virtual courses “make students miss out on learning,” since, “distractions are everywhere.” On the flip side, Jaeger does recognize that Zoom meetings cut down on travel time, freeing up time for students to participate in more clubs and activities.
The most striking difference on campus from previous years is the COVID-19 policies. Students are to be no less than 6-feet away from one another, must wear masks at all times, and are encouraged to hold gatherings outside whenever possible. Winter in Wisconsin has a tendency to begin prematurely, so the outside gatherings may not be able to carry on for much longer. However, I feel relatively safe from the virus on campus, as I have observed most students — and all faculty, of course — approaching social distancing policies adequately. Frances Donnis, a summer orientation leader and sophomore student, also feels safe on campus. She, like Sarah Aldridge, is employed at the Powerhouse, and discloses that, “After every shift, we wipe down the tables as much as we can, and we clean off the handles [on doors].” Kudos to the Powerhouse staff for doing their part to slow the spread! However, the protocol to reduce COVID transmission is a little awkward and almost hindering to such a tight-knit, friendly community like Beloit College. For example, it is customary to walk to class and smile and say hello to a multitude of people that you pass, but in the world of COVID-19, masks make this a bit more difficult. Nonetheless, students are still managing to occupy their free time with social gatherings while maintaining six feet of distance between themselves. Parties and ventures to off-campus bars are still happening, according to an email sent out on September 17th by the Dean of Students.
Since upperclassmen know what it is like to attend Beloit prior to the establishment of the module system, there is a consensus from them that modules are not something they hope the college will continue to implement. They believe that cramming 14-weeks of content into a mere seven weeks is overwhelming, and that there is little to no time to participate in much else. Conversely, many freshmen are either neutral in regards to the module schedule, or hold positive view on it. Softball player Ella Diers (‘24) says, “In some ways, it’s a little bit easier as a freshman, to only have two classes to keep track of.” Diers claims, however, that she also recognizes why upperclassmen disapprove of the system.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, many students have found joy through their return to campus in an otherwise dark time. While some students have decided to work remotely (at least for the first semester), those who are on campus are ecstatic to be reunited with their friends and favorite professors. Everyone is looking forward to a good year — hopefully all of which will take place on campus. Please continue to abide by Beloit’s social distancing guidelines. Have an awesome school year, Turtles!