Opinion Asks: A Return to Normalcy?

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 11/11/21 4:00am

by Julia Siegel / The Dartmouth Staff

Prompt: As the fall term begins to draw to a close, marking the end of Dartmouth’s first in-person term since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it is important to reflect on the term. In an Opinion Asks published earlier this term, we asked what writers perceived to be the largest challenges of the term. Now, we want to ask: What were some of the most successful parts of the fall term? How should the various successes and failures of this term inform the College’s actions going forward?

Coming into the term, I was nervous about the transition back to in-person classes. I felt like I barely had any time my freshman year, and going back to in person seemed like it would only make time a rarer commodity. While time is difficult to manage at Dartmouth, I have found that my time has been spent better this term. Being in-person forces small social interactions and gatherings that simply ceased to exist in the height of the pandemic. Virtual learning acted as a barrier to this, but my interpersonal connections have increased in both frequency and depth since its cessation. As the College goes forward, I hope they remember that technology cannot and should not be a solution for everything, and in-person human interaction has to be prioritized in every realm possible.

— Katherine Arrington ’24

Students and professors alike have made in-person learning one of the most rewarding experiences of the year. I only had two terms of in-person learning before COVID-19 hit, but I never truly appreciated how much I valued it until this term. Even though I can only see half of my classmates’ and professors’ faces, the energy of being back in the classroom makes it all worth it. Yes, professors have had to continue to adapt to a new classroom environment, retaining many of their online learning practices and adapting to the new challenges of the year. It also hasn’t been a seamless transition to the year for students, as we reconcile the promise of this year with all of the loss of last year. Everyone has risen to the challenge, and relatively promising COVID-19 rates, combined with our general tenacity, has made for a successful term. As the College updates and refreshes its policies for the new term, a keen eye to keeping in-person learning as intact as possible should prevail.

— Spencer Allen ’23

Overall, I think the term was successful in reestablishing a relative sense of normalcy on campus. This is the first term that has felt entirely normal; from the Homecoming bonfire to in-person classes, it is reminiscent of the Dartmouth I remember. With that being said, there remain many frustrations that must be addressed. From the seemingly never-ending housing crisis to random gym closures to the dilapidated mental health infrastructure, there is much work that still needs to be completed to improve the Dartmouth experience.  

— Natalie Dokken ’23