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Making College during Covid the New Normal

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

“I figured even though it wasn’t what I was used to, at least I could be on campus when so many other colleges were forced to shut their doors.”

I’m two days into my last semester at Juniata. Wow. If you’ve been reading my other blog posts, you know that I tend to get sappy about my time at Juniata ending, so I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible in this one. Since the first blog post I wrote, I’ve focused mostly on aspects of campus or opinions I hold that have been unaffected by COVID. However, after living through a semester unlike any other, I think it’s necessary to commemorate it in writing.

This semester was, as everything else in the world seems to be these days, unprecedented. Coping with the effects of a pandemic on campus was stress inducing at times but I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to create a new normal on-site instead of from my childhood bedroom in Pittsburgh.

This new normal wasn’t something I was necessarily excited to navigate at first because most of what I do on campus is in person. I dreaded having to stay engaged in my Zoom classes, wondered how I would help conduct a virtual Writing Center, and was skeptical about how to lead masked rugby practices if we could have them at all! As the semester progressed, the entire campus community started settling into our new normal. I started actually looking forward to things like giving virtual tours—something that I’d never done before, but that gave me a chance to show prospective students more of campus than I could in person. I started adapting to my Zoom classes and to wearing a mask all around campus.

I figured even though it wasn’t what I was used to, at least I could be on campus when so many other colleges were forced to shut their doors.

Even through all the changes, I found that the spirit of Juniata was still as vibrant as ever. Students still came together to work on projects, meet with professors, or just hang out over Zoom. We all still supported each other, we all still found time to laugh and live out our favorite Juniata traditions, and we spent more time outside than ever.

COVID didn’t change Juniata drastically as many of us thought it might. Yes, operations were different, but the things that make Juniata all that it is remained unchanged at their core. Coping with COVID on Juniata’s campus meant so many things to me, but above all else it meant that I still got to have my final fall semester and that I have my final spring semester to look forward to.