College is far more than just a chance to further your education — it’s a frontier of new experiences and new people to share them with. With classes online from the pandemic and limited activity on and around campus, however, the so-called “college experience” has entered an unprecedented state of limbo.
Feeling disconnected from the university they call home, Tigers from all walks of life are attempting to connect with their peers in ways never before seen. Club and organization meetings that were once held across campus and in the Union have migrated to Zoom chatrooms; Free Speech Plaza, once a vibrant gallery of characters in prior semesters, has become a ghost town.
A coming-of-age pilgrimage for those who choose to attend a university, the “college experience” is enriched by engaging with “programs your university offers [that] help you make new friends and establish a connection,” says studyusa.com
Without the direct mingling of ideas at organizational meetings, club socials or university events, many feel something is missing from the experience they were promised as an LSU Tiger.
While upperclassmen had grown accustomed to the high-level engagement on campus by the time it was stripped away for lockdown, freshmen in the class of 2024 only know the limbo of hybrid schooling.
Welcome Week events that would have normally been held in person to introduce freshmen to their new classmates were held on Zoom this year, making meeting new friends feel impersonal, if not impossible.
“I think that I’ve missed out on meeting people outside my major,” said architecture freshman Lilli Bourgeois. “On the upside: how I see it, I have another four years to experience those traditional opportunities.”
Some aspects of campus life, like the Tiger Marching Band, have been able to continue — albeit in an abridged manner. Operating with two bands rather than one, each comprising half its normal size of 325 members, the Tiger Band exists in a much different landscape from that of a normal fall semester.
“As a new member of Tiger Band, my opportunity to play has been extremely restricted and now we’re halfway through the season and I haven’t even been to a game,” music education freshman Caleb Provencher said. “It feels like COVID-19 has taken away a lot of potential experiences with Tiger Band that I would have otherwise had.”
What’s usually celebrated as the “Tiger Band Family” feels like anything but, with regulations restricting any mingling its members would normally engage in to bolster a sense of community during the football season. Like many organizations on campus, a community once brought together through close proximity is now kept at arms’ length.
To its credit, the University has done its best to maintain some sense of the college experience so many seek. From allowing a limited capacity for fall sports to creating virtual social gatherings, the University’s efforts to cultivate community have been noble and are worthy of our recognition.
These accommodations, while not ideal, allow for some sense of the Tiger community to thrive amid the “stately oaks and broad magnolias.” A compromising limbo of a college experience is preferable to the alternative: a completely lifeless campus with no signs of community whatsoever.
Domenic Purdy is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Prairieville.