Student on the Internet: What are your thoughts or concerns about campus reopening for fall term?

Tam Tong, News Contributor

Tuan Nguyen (he/him)

Senior student in mechanical engineering 

“I will be graduating after summer term. So, talking about coming back to a regular schedule in fall term this year, I think it’s a good idea, and people will like it because they already paid regular tuition [and] fees, so it’s more worth it to them. But coming back after one year staying home with online classes from the pandemic, the tools and methods that students learn from previous classes or courses, could be a barrier for them, because the quality of the class is not the same with the on-campus version. So, I think this is exciting news for everyone when everything will be back to normal soon. I am so looking forward to it.”

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Juno Valerio (she/her)

Senior student in biochemistry and biophysics

“I am lucky enough to have taken two in-person classes per term all year, which I am very grateful for. The current safety regulations work well for smaller classes, but the campus is usually much busier, and it will be harder to keep all the regulations in place. Many OSU students are getting vaccines, which is great, but not everyone wants a vaccine. OSU hasn’t said how they will regulate vaccinated versus unvaccinated students or if they will differentiate, so I am curious how they will proceed. 

As for non-class activities, I am very happy that the school will be opening in the fall. Students will have more opportunity to get involved on campus and make friends so they can have study groups and build a support network. Many of the freshmen I talk to now mention having almost no social circle or support network here at school, which is stressful for them. I wouldn’t have survived my four years at OSU without peers to study with, so I hope the reopening in fall will give students an opportunity to build a support network here at OSU.”

 

Ben Song (he/him)

Junior student in pharmacy

“I would not know how to react. I have been away from physical human interaction for a long time, it would be hard to get back into the normal routine. Now the definition of normal is different. Social interaction will have to be learnt again, and school will need adjustment. So in case they can’t be adjusted, one can fail very badly.”

 

Sarah Vojnovich (she/her)

Student in comparative health sciences 

“When I got the email from OSU that fall term was going to return to normal in-person classes, several feelings seemed to arise all at once. The initial feeling was excitement that a piece of normalcy might return to my life, and the second feeling was ‘oh crap, are we going to have a huge outbreak on campus since we all spend lots of time together in smaller spaces?’ The relief I tell myself is that most people will be vaccinated by that point, but still, I worry that I’m banking too much on that insurance policy. But to be honest, the benefits of in-person learning are truly tremendous and outweigh the risks, especially for classes where the skills taught are more hands-on. Organic chemistry lab is not as easy at home as it sounds. 

 People also have different learning styles, and as a TA I can say that remote learning is limiting and does not meet all the needs of the students. Remote learning also creates difficulty for those teaching the courses or TAing. In the end, if OSU pushes to continue vaccinating people and keeps some social distancing measures on the campuses, the benefits of in-person learning for our physical and mental health will be greater than the potential risks. Helen Keller said it best: ‘A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.’”

 

Quincey Mae Pittman (she/her)

Senior student in sustainable horticulture production

“Wow, this past year has been a roller coaster! I am currently in my last year, working on a Bachelor’s in Sustainable Horticultural Production, at Oregon State University. This degree is extremely applied, often requiring field trips with in-person and in-field applications of the knowledge learned. Personally, I love this learning method, thus, the past year has been difficult due to the detached classroom format. 

Fall term, if everything goes as planned should be entirely back in person. How exciting! On one hand, this means less freedom during the term to take a quick trip to the beach or the mountains. However, this is a seemingly small price to pay in order to maximize the learning, experiences and networking formed during in-person classes. I realize for many degrees that online learning is significantly more practical and schedule friendly. In regard to my degree, I am eagerly anticipating fall term. 

I suppose many of my concerns are directed towards how ‘in-person’ classes will be formatted. My best guess is it will only be a shadow version of what classes looked like prior to transferring to Zoom. For instance, field trips may be reduced, we will most likely continue wearing masks (for a long time), classroom seating arrangements will be spaced six feet apart, etc. Although I wish we could revert to what I might consider ‘normal,’ I don’t think this is a realistic expectation. I suppose I can hope though.”

 

Hung Phan (he/him)

Senior student in bio-health sciences

“I’m currently enrolled in an in-person class this term, so I am qualified to say this: It is much, much better than Zoom lectures. I was excited upon learning that I would have a class taking place in Furman Hall. I was concerned about how the school would handle social distancing and safety guidelines. It turned out during my first lecture that they were handling these protocols quite well: seats separated, masks required, attendance taken for contact tracing, professors are vaccinated before they can hold in-person lectures, etc. I can see that it is way better for me to focus on the instructor during an in-person lecture without all the distractions during a Zoom lecture. So, for whom this may concern, in-person lectures during COVID-19 can be a great experience.”

 

Nikhil Dinkar Wandhekar (he/him)

Junior student in mechanical engineering

“As a student, I am very excited to start in-person classes this fall; however, the risk of contacting COVID is still very much existent. Knowing that recipients of the vaccine can still host the virus and spread it to other people, I think having the option to choose whether to take classes in person or virtually would be the best thing the university can do for its students. Personally, I will be taking as many in-person classes as I can because a year of a stagnant, non-existing student life has been quite underwhelming. I feel if I get the opportunity to meet other people like me during my classes, I can get rid of a lot of anxiety since everyone is on the same boat and there is a sense of community. 

However, the current situation is very isolating and not knowing how others are coping adds to the tension. Not to mention the lack of hands-on experience for engineering students when labs are conducted virtually. Having spoken to a few people that I know from my freshman and sophomore year, it seems we have a shared opinion on things and would be very much looking forward to an in- person fall term. I think OSU has done a good job of containing the virus until now; however, a lot of students have faced financial hardships and I am hoping the university takes that into consideration and provides some sort of compensation, not in the form of lower fees but hosting engineering expos, career fairs and socials events for freshmen that missed a social life their freshman year last year. Go Beavs!”

 

 John Susi (he/him)

Junior student in School of Pharmacy

“I definitely have mixed feelings about going back to campus in person, but I feel like it’s the only way to really get the full education experience. Of course, I would still recommend following precautions like sanitizing, wearing masks and social distancing as much as you can. Overall, I feel fine going back to school in person knowing that I will be following the precautions and I expect others to do the same as well.”

 

Bao Nguyen (he/him)

Senior student in electrical engineering

“I really want to see the pandemic to be over. I miss the library, the school lunch and everything that makes college so fun. Having class in person makes it easier to ask questions. For people who are shy like me, I would like to be able to ask questions after class, but not during class when everyone is listening. I also miss knock[ing] on my teacher’s door to chat and discuss different topics. I would have to schedule a time on Zoom and that makes it quite unnatural.

However, I would expect not all instructors will be able to teach this fall in person as different people have different underlying health conditions. All I ask for is mostly everyone to get vaccinated and the [COVID-19] cases stay down dramatically over the month. If not, I would not be comfortable to return to school.”

 

Thao Truong (she/her)

Junior student in School of Pharmacy

 “On top of memorizing drug names, pharmacies require in-person labs to learn how to perform physical exams, to make drugs and to counsel patients. For this reason, I am eager to go back to campus this coming fall. I am also excited to see my classmates and get to have actual interaction with them.”