By Victoria Fusco ’23 (she/her)
If someone had told us Wildcats last year that during the Fall 2020 semester our means of communication would be turned upside-down — few to no in-person meetings, cancelation of many of our cherished extracurriculars, separation from some of our closest friends who are now living on and off campus — we would’ve called them crazy. Nevertheless, here we are, living in this unfathomable time…and now we must acknowledge our new reality. It hasn’t been easy, but our shared community values of safety and respect allow us to do all we can to protect one another, even when that means sacrificing many of the things we love.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest struggles to overcome are the boundaries between the communication of students and faculty on and off campus. It is easy to become disconnected when we are unable to connect physically, because despite all the possible Zoom sessions, only so much can be experienced through a screen.
Christine Ahn ‘23 discussed her experiences spending this semester living over 7,000 miles from campus and how she has handled communication over such a long distance. “It’s been much easier than I expected since all my classes and meetings are online so I don’t feel like I’m at a disadvantage. The downside is that it’s been hard connecting with some of my friends because of my timezone. Unless we plan a zoom call/FaceTime in advance, it’s hard to contact each other,” she said.
Over the summer, we awaited anxiously to begin the semester, unsure of how drastically the pandemic would influence our lives at Davidson. Though many aspects of our college lives remained unknown, we quickly decided that not even a worldwide pandemic could stop us from pursuing our passions. While things may look very different, our drive and spirit make up for the lack of normalcy in our lives. Many campus organizations, with determination, discovered creative ways to connect with fellow students and bridge the communication gaps caused by the pandemic. Even individual students are coming up with ideas to keep each other engaged and stay connected.
Members of the French Club E-board decided to distribute gift bags for all new members in hopes of creating a welcoming environment, despite the unwelcoming atmosphere of the pandemic. Grace Tayloe ‘23 described her experience in participating in this endeavor: “Organizing and putting together the goodie bags made me really excited about French club and welcoming our first years. We hoped the first years would have a similar feeling about the club and understand that we are so excited to get to know them even in these difficult times! We included some notes and information about our upcoming meetings, and so far the turnout has been really good!”
Campus organizations that work closely with non-Davidson members also haven’t allowed the pandemic to stop them. The Special Olympics club hosts online Zoom exercise classes leading athletes in engaging and fun activities. Carmen Wagner ‘21 and Katherine Smith ‘21, Co-Presidents, shared the Special Olympic club’s plans for the unconventional semester: “As leaders of the Special Olympics club, we wanted to figure out how to make Special Olympics events possible during the pandemic. Instead of postponing everything to the spring, we decided we could move some events to Zoom! Currently, we are planning a Zoom yoga session, and we’re hoping our following event will involve some kind of Zumba or dance workout over Zoom! We are definitely going to miss getting to hang out with the athletes in person, but this at least allows us to see everyone over the screen and enjoy a fun workout together!”
Some students have taken a different approach to creative and inclusive communication this year. The creator of the Davidson Compliments page (@complimenting_davidson) on Instagram believes in the importance of maintaining peer connections. Daily, students submit anonymous compliments for other students and faculty to the page. The creator then posts these compliments, creating an encouraging and positive environment for followers. The creator writes about their experience running this uplifting account:
“I made the Davidson Compliments page a few days after Davidson announced the new no guest policy for students in apartments and dorms on campus. It was also around the time when Davidson was experiencing the highest amount of positive cases on campus, and when the most amount of students were put into quarantine. I personally was feeling disheartened, and there was a general feeling of low morale around campus. My favorite thing about Davidson are the people who go here. We have such an incredible community of students, faculty, and staff who deserve to be appreciated for all that they do. I also think that it is vitally important in COVID times to reflect on what we are grateful for even amidst a global pandemic. I wanted to make an account where people could submit compliments about their friends, or even strangers who they are thankful for. When someone sees a compliment written about themselves, I hope that it brightens their day just a little bit.”
Nothing could have prepared us for such an unexpected semester, but with the help of passionate students and student organizations, we have been given so many opportunities to continue to do what we love and connect with those around us who share our passion for positive change in the world.