Welcome back! Or, not really?
The vast majority of classes are being held online. Students have deferred, taken semesters off, or are attending classes from all over the world. Campus is largely deserted, with red tape and arrows directing you through buildings and ominous signs depicting masks and listing COVID symptoms plastered on each door. School is back in session, but it really isn’t.
I sat down in front of my laptop for hours trying to think of what I wanted to say. What intelligent or valuable sentiment I could add to the multitude of complex conversations being had right now. And honestly, I couldn’t come up with much. There was no rallying cry or pep talk I could offer, no original insight I could provide to all the issues the last few months have brought to light, some not for the first time, many not for the last. It’s exhausting, and overwhelming, and stressful. This is not a unique feeling; everyone is having to adjust and move forward in ways that would have seemed insane to us if proposed in January.
I’m supposed to graduate this spring, and I’ll be leaving university for a world that is unrecognizable from anything seen for generations. There is no guidebook to 2020, and what will come after it, which leaves both terrifying realities and exciting possibilities. People keep making reference to “the new normal,” saying that lockdowns and COVID regulations will now define our lives for the foreseeable future. I think those people forget that the concept of normal has never been stagnant, and nothing has ever been guaranteed. We are constantly being upended, forced to adapt, and resettling for the next time it will happen again. This is a big one, sure, but who’s saying we can’t bounce back, with new ideas and plans, building a better “normal” instead of returning to the old one?
Here at the Bruns, much like everywhere else, life is turned upside down. How do you cover the issues in the community when “the community” is now a series of Microsoft Teams meetings? How do you engage with the student population when that population is spread across the country and world? We’ve had to rethink the answers to those questions, reframe our place in the conversation, and recalibrate our approaches.
I wanted to open this dialogue, in a time of top-down information, with constant regulations, mandates, and statistics, hoping to hear back from you. What problems are you facing; what matters to you right now? Speaking on behalf of The Bruns, we are committed to providing our readership with the information they need and facilitating the conversations that are beneficial to them. In order to do that in the best way we can, especially amid the distance, we want to know what you have to say. We want to be your advocate.
So, welcome back to a new year. I hope you never lose WiFi, always remember to turn your microphone off, and leave the house on occasion.
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