Campus Life During a Pandemic
For many of us alumnae, we remember the frenzied beginnings of our time at Saint Mary’s. We remember the orientation events, meeting new friends in classes, sharing meals in the dining hall, and going to dorm parties.
Starting college during a pandemic looks a little different. For the Class of 2024, it looks like physically distanced events, a masked-up move in, and daily health check ins. On campus, it can be hard to recognize new faces under masks and get to know your neighbors with health and safety restrictions in place.
First year Riley Kostic ’24 said her biggest challenge was making new friends and feeling part of the community. “Everyone was keeping their distance in the beginning and I was worried about not making friends. Luckily, I found a great group of girls that I am able to rely on in these uncertain times.”
And although the pandemic has been isolating in some ways, Lydia Csaszar ’22 said she has seen students come together in other ways.
“One thing that I have noticed is that people are physically distancing at lunch, but still eating with each other and talking instead of just sitting and working on their laptops or playing on their phones...So we are all unplugging and talking.”
Political science professor Marc Belanger said he’s seen his students step up and engage in Zoom discussions. “The surprise to me is that there has not been a real [difference] in the quality of student work. ...Considering all the challenges they face, and the anxiety, I think students really are trying to do their best work and succeeding more than I might have expected.”
The Women’s Choir has adjusted their practice schedule to only once a week with the full choir, spaced out in O’Laughlin Auditorium. Students have to wear masks as they sing, but when they come together, it is a beautiful experience.
“The students are just so glad to be able to sing together again, even in this strange way,” Nancy Menk said. The Women’s Choir came together as a choir to produce the first virtual choir video, “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” of course!