Chandler Lilly ’23 (she/ her), Staff Writer

Chandler Lilly ’23 (she/her) speaks with Davidson community members as vaccine rollout ramps up and campus restrictions ease about a newfound sense of freedom and security.

James Shakow ‘22

“I wanted to live on campus more than anything else because I miss having people around because I’m very extroverted. I did not choose Little dormitory because I was going to go abroad. I am a junior, but since all of that went out the window, I’m living in a freshman dorm. I’ve got a job off campus, so I thought I should get vaccinated because I was working all the time around lots of people. I got my second dose two days ago! In the last few weeks, I have absolutely noticed a good change on campus. I hugged a friend who I hadn’t hugged in a year and a half the other day, and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. People are still wary, but things are opening up again. Life is restarting. I’m an optimist, so next year I’m hoping everything will go back to the way it was.”

McNeill Franklin ‘23

“I wanted to come back to campus, so I am here in New Dorm with my roommate from last year. I got my second dose two weeks ago and I got it because I want to get this show on the road. I am tired of Coronavirus, I feel safe taking it, I trust the science, I’m ready to go and I am eligible. Around campus I’ve noticed a more positive change in attitude overall. I feel like everyone is vaccinated or will be vaccinated and everyone feels safer around campus because of this. The weather is also really nice and there has definitely been a change in positive attitude. I feel like this is a turning point, but I also said the same thing at the end of last summer. I feel like maybe July will be a major turning point. I just really hope to go abroad in the fall. My fingers are crossed, and I am holding out hope!”

Lilly Nichols ‘19

“I was vaccinated pretty early — back at the end of January — because I work so directly with COVID-19. My exposure rate is extremely high, so it was an obvious choice to get vaccinated. Since vaccines have become more available, there has been the practical change of less COVID on campus. When someone does end up testing positive, far fewer people are put into quarantine because they’ve been fully vaccinated and that takes a lot of the stress and strain off of the system. From a practical standpoint, that’s changed everything. For students, I have seen that the anxiety has dialed down a bit. I think living in a high-density living situation can be stressful, especially during a pandemic, and just the knowledge that you and your friends are protected just really helps lower the tension and anxiety overall. I think this is a colossal turning point. I think Davidson students are so interested in the science and interested in protecting each other so I think the vaccination rate on campus will be extremely high once everyone gets their second doses. We will definitely be able to protect the campus. I certainly think the campus will be much safer. I think things will start to feel normal soon. We’re there. It feels different than last summer. We’ve done the work and now we have this wonderful thing, so it does feel very optimistic.”

Isabel Morichi ‘23

“I live in the sustainability co-op, so I live in a house but it’s technically campus housing. My friend and I decided to live in the Coop last year, and we really liked the experience and the communal environment it provided. Living in a house also seemed cool since that wouldn’t really be an option any other time at Davidson. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the clinic. I was going to get it earlier, but when I heard that Davidson was doing a clinic I decided to wait because it was easier. I was really excited to get a one-dose, so that was definitely a big reason I chose to get it here. I definitely think there’s been a relaxation in campus culture and among the Coop as well. Last semester we were pretty strict about who could come in because there’s a lot of us, so our contact circle was big, but I think people have become much more relaxed — myself included — because there’s a lot lower risk of transmission. I don’t know if that’s good, but I think everyone is aware that it’s generally a little safer now. I am much less paranoid about getting it. I definitely think people are more optimistic that we’ll be going back to normalcy soon. The summer is still a little up in the air and people are still a bit unsure about what’s going to happen, but I think people – myself included – are more optimistic that we’ll have more travel opportunities and a safer time seeing other people in the coming months.”

Alice Garner ‘24

“I am on campus, and I chose this living situation because my parents and I felt like it was a safe decision. I knew I would benefit from in-person friendships and relationships with teachers if possible, so I definitely wanted that opportunity. I chose to get the vaccine because I definitely want to protect myself as well as others around me from COVID. I think if there’s a vaccine available and it’s okay for me to get it, I definitely should. Our age group is risky and having the vaccine would make going back home feel a lot safer since I’m around my parents. I knew I was the biggest risk they had. On campus, I feel like there’s been a change with people hanging out in groups more. Personally, my actions haven’t really changed but because others have the vaccine, they feel more comfortable going out. There’s more freedom and it’s safer to do things now. It’s all for the better and definitely benefiting a lot of people. It’s positive to an extent because I don’t think I’m just going to go out and party, but I do feel like there’s a good balance to be reached and we’re at that balance right now. The vaccine has created more optimism around the student body which has been great. I think there’s been a lot more positivity which has been very beneficial for everyone’s mental health. Obviously COVID is going to still be present in our lives. It will always be in the back of my mind and the minds of others, but I’m an optimistic person. I feel very hopeful that things will turn to somewhat normalcy and people will have better mindsets and appreciate what they have now and have something to look forward to which is very important.”

Sam Cochran ‘24

“I was thinking at one point about taking a gap year. I was asked a couple times by my parents if I wanted to go remote for the semester and I rejected that quickly. To put it bluntly, Davidson’s a very difficult academic environment and if I were remote, I would have zero social interaction. I would be too busy doing schoolwork and all my high school friends would be away, so it was worth it for me to come to campus, even with all the restrictions, because I would be getting some semblance of a college experience. The idea of all of us going through the same experience together is something that we will all share. I have gotten the first dose of Pfizer and I get my second dose soon. I just wanted a vaccine. I didn’t care what it was. This semester I’ve noticed that people were much less panicked about the virus than last semester. Unfortunately, I got quarantined because my roommate got COVID, so I contracted it too. By the time I got out I wasn’t getting tested anymore, so that’s when I started noticing big changes. When I got it, I thought about all these things I did to avoid getting it, and it still happened. I think mentally for me, that was the turning point. After getting it and recovering, everything felt very different. It was months ago that I stopped trying to predict what COVID would do next. If I really think about it, maybe things will be back to normal, probably not, who knows. Whatever happens at this point happens.” 

Chloe Appleby ‘22

“I’m living in Tommy, and I decided to do that because I like being central to campus. I got my second dose on April 13th, and I absolutely knew as soon as I could get it, I was going to. I think it’s just the best thing for the community right now. At first, there was the fear that I was getting it too early. Do I actually count as one of the people who are in shared living? In actuality, the man who was giving me my vaccine said I had nothing to worry about. He said they were just trying to get these vaccines out to everyone which really calmed my nerves. I have grandparents and people in my life that need to get it before me, but as soon as I was eligible, I got it. On campus I’ve noticed a sense of hope again. When we came back to campus after winter break, we were all optimistic, then we had the 60+ case spike for a few weeks which was really hard for a lot of people. You build up this hope and then there’s this new wave or you build up this hope then your best friend gets it. These false hopes were up in the air for a while but finally people can settle in and know that this is real hope and not a false hope that life can start approaching normalcy. Obviously, there’s still going to be parts of our lives that are forever changed by this, but it’s nice to have the hope that next year maybe I can go visit my grandma. At least for me, the big thing is seeing my family. I’ve noticed a morale increase on campus as well. People are out and about, people and dressing nicely, people wave to you, and people just seem happier. Everything is going in the right direction. I think COVID has made me more of a realist. It’s made me look at a situation and be a little more skeptical and cynical and I hate that. I’m a very optimistic person but this situation has let me down so many times that it’s exhausting. I think this hope is real. I feel very confident that this is finally our next step towards true hope and being excited about the future.”