Myers: Done with Zoom?

Evan Myers, Guest Contributor

The list of activities and memorable life experiences that I, and most other freshmen, have missed out on is extensive. It includes high school experiences like proms, graduations, and school trips, but obviously also encompasses the first year college experiences like Wildcat Welcome, living on campus in the fall and attending sporting events. The list could go on. Perhaps the most disappointing part of normal college life to be missing out on at the moment is in-person classes.

Creating genuine connections with professors, making friends and feeling like a “real” Northwestern student have all become far more arduous activities.We have to spend a majority of our days in our dorms with our faces glued to our computer screens with little opportunity for a reprieve. There are very limited opportunities for any type of in-person programming at all. Club meetings, intramural sports and many other campus activities are also all virtual, if occurring at all.

I question whether it has to be this way. Over the last few weeks of Winter Quarter, I have found myself struggling to comprehend why in-person classes or clubs are not going to be offered more in the spring quarter curriculum. Students are now being tested twice a week. And the threat of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms is reduced, to a degree, due to the additional testing. Being able to perform multiple COVID-19 tests a week, especially a rapid test, seems like the exact kind of development that makes in-person classes possible, as all students could obtain a negative test just minutes before entering the classroom. Couple this with mask wearing and social distancing, and I feel many people’s fears about transmission as a result of in-person classes are largely assuaged.

The weather will also continue to improve in the spring, granting the opportunity for in-person classes to be conducted outdoors. While conducting a 200 person lecture outside might be exceedingly difficult, hosting a discussion section of 20 people or less seems entirely feasible. Some might even feel that it’s a little bit nicer to hold a discussion section by the lakefill instead of a classroom. In the spring, vaccination rates will begin to increase considerably throughout the country, once again further decreasing the threat of COVID-19.

To be clear, I am not advocating for a complete return to normalcy. Rather, I believe that it is entirely plausible for Northwestern to offer discussion sections, club meetings, and other small in-person activities in the spring. Myself and, I am sure, many others simply feel that the University is not doing enough or even really attempting to bring students back together in an in-person format even though the opportunity and student eagerness is there for it to happen.

If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.