The coronavirus has affected the whole world. It is up to each individual country, state, city–or in this case, school—to figure out how to respond. Here at American International College, the campus seems like it’s under a small lockdown. The environment and vibe of the campus has suffered due to the state regulations put into place to make this a safe place to attend school. Two of the biggest differences on campus this year are the lack of people you see around and the system that has been put in place at the Dining Commons.
Sophomore criminal justice major Taylor Wildes, 19, commented on the sense of isolation. “There is a much different vibe on campus,” she said. “Without in-person classes, everyone is confined in their own personal room, and it’s hard to meet new people. We are also not allowed to have guests in our rooms, so that makes it harder to get to know people and make new friends.”
But the increasing sense of isolation may not even be the hardest part of weathering the pandemic on campus.
Very few people who attend AIC have “attended” school online before. Going from high school to college is a big jump, no matter who you are. But making that jump into an online environment is a battle that many students at AIC are facing.
Wildes is one of many students navigating a virtual classroom. “I feel like the hardest part of this year is online classes,” she said. “Zoom classes are harder because of all the potential problems or questions you might have to solve all on your own.”
Many students value the in-classroom experience because it allows them to get to know their professors and classmates on a deeper level. Recreating this experience online is a challenge.
Many students also feel like they are missing out on the “college experience”—which includes parties, huge tailgates, and social gatherings.
For Blake Bennett, a sophomore on the hockey team, “The hardest part about this year is not being able to be a real college student. We can’t go to parties, and the online school has been very difficult.”
Bennett explained how his experience on campus contrasts to his fall semester last year. This year, there is hardly anyone around. And what was one of the most lively spots on campus last year, the Dining Commons, is now a forbidden hang-out spot.
The vibe around campus is all but dead. No one is playing catch with a football on the quad. No one is catching a pass from the President on Fridays between classes. But the biggest letdown this year is not being able to hang out at the DC with all your buddies.
Last year, the best way to pass time in the middle of the day was to go grab a bite and chill out. But this year, that simply is not safe with the amount of people constantly moving in and out. The DC is open, but it is under strict rules. You can eat inside, but only two people are allowed at a single table. There are tables outside for bigger parties, but that makes it difficult for those who love to eat slow and fill their plate as they go. It also makes it difficult for people who love to eat a lot. To dine outside, students have to re-swipe their cards to get back in to get more food.
For Bennett, the changes to the DC have been a tough adjustment. “I hate how we have to grab as much food as we can with one pass through the DC,” Bennett commented. “It makes it very hard to get enough food, especially after practice. Carrying everything out without dropping it is very difficult if you do not take a bag.”
AIC’s campus has undergone many significant changes during this irregular year, but the students, faculty, and staff still thrive for the best college experience possible. Working together, the people of AIC could still have an amazing year. Either way, it is sure to be one no one will ever forget.