COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the course of university life for the time being. FSU’s very enticing college experience has taken a back seat during the global pandemic. There has been a marked shift in the classic college atmosphere, which has changed how students function on a daily basis.
While college is meant to be an exciting period in a young adult’s life, the effects of COVID-19 have led to an unexpected turnaround in events. Many students have struggled in ways related to financial instability, lack of emotional support, and impaired academic retention.
Student engagement on campus has also received a hit. The once pulsating community of FSU students has had its light dimmed by virtual programming.
“COVID-19 has really changed what commitment means to me, in that various entities, especially on campus, have unfortunately taken a nose dive into their involvement … The Center for Leadership and Social Change was a beacon for students when I came in my first year and it served as such a happy place for those seeking community engagement and change, “said Samantha Gomez, director of special events at the Askew Student Life Center.
Both incoming students and lower classes have had to adapt to this new normal, which may not match their preconceived notion of the typical college experience. They try to navigate two difficult tasks: being students and building a new university culture from scratch.
A big part of university life is the excitement that leads up to beginning such a special experience that will last for four years. From campus involvement to academic success, the limitless opportunity that FSU provides is unlike any other university. With the tumultuous impact of this pandemic, it has made things so much harder to embrace the unique quality of the university.
Everyone has been affected by COVID, but especially students and the faculty have had a hard time.
Assistant Professor of English John Ribó provided insight into the changes that the faculty at FSU has had to navigate in terms of teaching through a pandemic. Like most, his acute challenges with COVID-19 are rooted in stress and exhaustion and the uncertainty of the future.
“What will tomorrow, next week, next month, next semester, next year look like? How many of us will get sick? How serious will our illness be? What will our leaders do about something to protect our health? (This) has informed all aspects of education through the pandemic, “said Dr. Ribo.
The changes associated with switching to online learning, personal instruction and straight back to online, have affected Dr. The mental health of Ribós and his students. As a professor, he strives to offer his students patients, grace, understanding and highlights the resources available on campus and beyond to help them through these challenges.
The most radical shift in university experience he said he has observed has been among many of his students who have spent most of their time in socially distant relationships.
“Many students have expressed regret over the lost opportunities associated with a more typical, pre-pandemic college experience rooted in leisure activities, social events and collective cultural festivities that make university campuses more than just a place to go in education and earning credits, “he said.
Despite all the challenges, he is optimistic about the future. His students’ resilience and success give him great optimism for their collective success. He expresses hope that this pandemic in building a new normal incorporates crucial lessons from these challenging times, such as that one’s physical and mental health are fundamental and must be taken care of.
National Pan-Hellenic Council President Myles Sams shed light on the commitment of student leaders to serve their respective communities at FSU.
Sams happily remembered that FSU was everything people said it would be when they arrived on campus. It was energetic, involvement-oriented and gave him a sense of belonging. The endless opportunity that comes from college engagement, and student organizations specifically, is a resource that he strongly encourages everyone to take advantage of.
“College makes me smile,” Sams said when asked to define the college experience. “You meet lifelong friends and are pressured to be a leader academically and socially. FSU is a place where you are about 40,000 students, all striving to get better.”
With FSU admission letters pouring out this spring and the newly admitted first-year class coming in, Sams is urging the new faces on campus to keep working. Working hard does not trigger stagnation, it ignites change. He challenges students to find a way to make it happen while using this new normal as a driving force.
“I don’t want the campus to be what it used to be, I want it to be the way it should be,” Sams said. “We just have to capture it as a collective of students, and I feel like working hard. We can continue to build something even bigger than the pre-pandemic college experience.”