GENEVIEVE PFISTER, Staff Writer—The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of people all around the globe, and Denison students are no exception. From mask-wearing to the virtual learning ‘pivot,’ COVID-19 has brought many changes to campus. But how do Denison students really feel about those changes, and what else have they noticed about pandemic campus life? We asked four Denison students, all from different grades and majors, to talk about the transition to remote and the biggest similarities and differences between this year and last. This is what they had to say.

Hannah Davies, First Year History & International Studies Double Major from North Carolina

“Last year, the transition to remote learning was a bit jarring . . . I found online courses during the last quarter of my senior year of high school to be challenging. It was shocking to see how engaging and exciting online & hybrid classes were at Denison. The amount of student activities and events that CLIC or student groups have organized is nothing short of amazing, as it has made such an isolating time significantly less lonely and more normal.”

Zhanghe Chen, Sophomore Education & Biology Double Major from China

“I wasn’t surprised [by the transition to remote] . . . I think one of the big changes [this semester] is people’s minds on COVID  . . .  I heard a lot of people saying . . .  ‘I don’t want this shield or mask anymore, we actually want in-person, we want everybody back on campus.’ . . . [so] we’re taking actions, we’re setting all of these rules, and  . . . I know my friends are all taking the vaccines . . . we desperately want our class to be fully in person  . . . [But] despite the COVID-19, we still have our social bonding together on campus . . .  [W]e are social distancing . . . but we can still have social contact . . .”

Laura Lapham, Junior Geoscience Major from Pennsylvania

“[My first reaction to the pandemic was] numbness. It was very sudden and very weird, but I guess I was an optimist since I didn’t believe it was the end of the world . . . The main difference [this semester] is my comfort level and personal life. Through the fall and winter break I had to figure out a lot of problems in my life caused by COVID. Spring semester almost felt like a clean slate. I feel more social, happy, and involved in my classes.”

Adam Venrick, Senior Theatre Major from Ohio

“My first reaction was sort of walking around in a dream . . . [and] mostly grieving the senior class . . . It’s impossible for me to say what a ‘normal’ senior year would have looked like for me. It still would have included a job search, it still would have included an apartment search, it still would have included a lot of indecision, and those things are all certainly amplified by there being a giant disease . . . [when the pandemic hit] I lost everything I’d been working on . . . I lost my play . . . I lost my friends, some of them, because they’d graduated, they’d moved on, and I didn’t get to see them do that . . . [But] I still go to the gym, I still have gotten to be in plays, I’ve still gotten to go to class, I’ve gotten to see friends  . . . Harder than things changing is accepting that things have changed . . . Once I accepted that it was just gonna be life with a mask, I just viewed it as life with a mask . . . I live my life the same as I always did to the extent that I can do it safely . . . and take care of other people. And that does mean some compromises have to be made, but . . . it’s worth it, because there’s a bigger picture at stake.”