After having the chance to observe my fellow Juniata students for the past three years, my key finding has been that we tend to be creatures of habit. We eat at the same tables in Baker meal-to-meal, we do the same activities day-to-day, and some of us even head to the gym or to the library at the same time each day.
This year, a global pandemic has forced many of us who are habitual beings into new territory; and we’re all coping differently. With that, I introduce to you the Juniata College COVID-19 student. While some of us may share coping mechanisms, I’ve noticed that many students have gravitated, either by choice or not, to one of these five categories.
The first type of Juniata COVID student is the extra cautious student. These students actually brought a thermometer with them and possibly even owned it prior to this semester. Alongside their trusty thermometer, they probably also packed two to four containers of Lysol wipes, at least one large pump hand sanitizer—which they offer to friends before and after meals—and a large assortment of cloth and disposable masks.
Next is the environmentally conscious student. To combat the guilt they’re feeling after seeing Eco House’s display of waste outside of Baker, these students tote their canvas bags, Tupperware, and reusable cutlery to Baker for each meal. Like the extra cautious student, environmentally conscious students have an array of reusable masks—probably handmade—to choose from each day. You can find these students taking to social media to post pictures with their sporks and to share Eco House posts about living sustainably.
One of the biggest differences this semester is that it is more socially acceptable to identify as a “room dweller”—which is the third type of Juniata COVID student. Room dwellers love the implementation of Jitters’ new meal exchange option in lieu of trips to Baker. They do prefer to take their classes online via zoom, so they’ve invested in a pair of blue light blocking glasses to combat the headaches that started just over a month ago.
In stark contrast to the room dweller is the quad dweller. These students can be found on the quad for hours on end. A visitor to Juniata College at noon might mistake the entire student body for quad dwellers. However, as the lunch rush dwindles and students head to classes, the quad dwellers make themselves known. Quad dwellers will often stay out long past mealtimes, working on homework, chatting with friends, maybe even Zooming into class surrounded by the lush greenery that is the Juniata College quad.
The final type consists of students who are utilizing their liberal arts creative problem-solving skills to find ways to emulate a “normal” semester. These adaptive students are definitely having the most fun this semester while still abiding by COVID policies.
If you’re a Juniata College student, you might be frustrated with me if I failed to observe or encapsulate your own type perfectly. The beauty of Juniata College students is that it’s difficult to push us into five boxes with finite characteristics. We’re resilient and we’re finding new ways to cope with the pandemic around us.
I will forever be grateful that I get to be in a place as unique as Juniata College during this time of mayhem. Crazy though the rest of the world may be, the bubble that is our campus and the students that inhabit it continue to amaze me with the ways they are finding to persevere through and even thrive in the craziness.