I’ve found myself reminiscing about pre-pandemic campus a lot recently. The majority of my classes have me stuck inside and glued to my laptop screen, so I’ve found myself missing the extra excuse to get out of my apartment and experience campus life.
I miss it all, from the rushed early morning cross-campus walks to the late night cram sessions in the library.
I’ve come to realize more and more each week how burnt out I am on this “new normal” and how discouraged many of us have become because of it.
But despite how much I miss the 2019 campus environment, I’ll have to admit I was shocked to see the University’s Fall 2021 announcement in my email on Wednesday morning.
The update was addressed to all students, faculty and staff members. It predicted, very optimistically, that we will be conducting next semester “the way we did before the onset of the pandemic,” going as far to say that Fall 2021 is expected to “operate similarly to Fall 2019.”
Well, that was unexpected.
Given how uncertain everything has been since last March, I was really taken aback by this assertion. It struck me as being extremely spur-of-the-moment and almost outrageously ill-considered.
I would love to get back to normal and feel like a functioning human being and college student again, but this message worried me about the future more than it consoled me. It felt more like a reason to panic than a glimpse into a bright future with the pandemic behind us.
Generally speaking, making any sort of prediction about COVID-19 has seemed to bring forth more public commotion and confusion than it has clarity. It seems too early to tell what path the pandemic will take in the future.
The rise of vaccinations and drop in new cases in the U.S. do provide a trace of justification for these new expectations, but it’s putting a lot of faith in the vaccine distribution system and the borderline unpredictable statistics. A myriad of different factors or situations could throw a curveball in our understanding of this virus at any time.
I’m afraid that what the University has done in spreading this message more than five months in advance could be more dangerous than anything. Call me a pessimist, but I think the best way of navigating through a pandemic is by maintaining the utmost caution and understanding that nothing is truly certain.
While I’m sure the administration meant no harm, I think it was a poor choice to inspire false hope in students when we really have no idea whether we'll be returning to “normal” next semester.
I wish I could blindly rejoice and celebrate a long-awaited return to campus, but it feels wholly irresponsible to ignore the current disconcerting state of the world and the ongoing pandemic for the sake of having a sense of normalcy again.
Emily Davison is a 19-year-old anthropology and English sophomore from Denham Springs.