Monday, July 6, 2020

Column: It's OK to be excited, while also uncomfortable to return to campus in the fall

May 29, 2020
<p>An MSU student begins the process of leaving campus after MSU halted in-person classes due to the coronavirus March 11, 2020.</p>

An MSU student begins the process of leaving campus after MSU halted in-person classes due to the coronavirus March 11, 2020.

Photo by Jack Falinski | The State News
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When Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced on Wednesday that Michigan State will have its students return to campus in the fall, I had a lot of mixed emotions.

In a recent survey I conducted, approximately 90% of students said they would return to MSU if they had in-person classes with social distancing guidelines in place, and another 87% of respondents said they would return to MSU with a “hybrid” class setup with some instruction online and some in a normal classroom. Despite the overwhelming majority of respondents saying they plan on returning, according to the survey, only 79% of respondents answered they would feel comfortable returning to Michigan State even if social distancing guidelines were in place.

The results show that some students, even though they plan on returning, aren't necessarily comfortable doing so.

Count me as one of them. 

Regardless of what MSU decided, I was going to return to East Lansing. With a job, a housing lease and the desire to fulfill four years at Michigan State, I never truly considered leaving an option.

This does not change the fact that the student body still has a lot of questions, and rightfully so. Stanley’s announcement still leaves the entire principle of how MSU will handle tens of thousands of students returning in the fall up in the air. 

What will the guidelines for classes be? Will students, professors, and TAs be required to wear masks? Will there be limited class sizes? How much time will we spend in a classroom versus online? If we are bringing students back, does that mean fall sports will commence? If so, how will they ensure those student-athletes stay safe? 

I could go on forever with the questions I have as to how MSU will hold classes in the fall, as I am sure many students could as well. And you have the right to ask for answers before you prepare to return.

However, that shouldn’t curb your enthusiasm for returning to campus.

When it was announced on Thursday that our information was potentially at risk from a group of hackers, I exclaimed 2020 must be some kind of sick joke that the world decided to put on us.

Since we were all sent home, we have seen more than 100,000 people perish in the U.S. because of this pandemic, our internships canceled, graduations and final moments with our classmates stripped from us. Also, the continuation of systematic problems still finds a way to plague our country. However, returning to a sense of normalcy gave me hope and a sense of excitement moving forward.

The thought of returning to a classroom to learn instead of staring at a computer screen for eight or more hours gave me a sense of relief. The chance to spend late nights with my best friends doing what college kids do — I am 19, how dare you insinuate that I would ever consider consuming alcohol — filled me with excitement. The hope that I might be able to walk up to a press box and do what I love gave me something that I haven’t felt in a long time.

That feeling I felt was frisson, a sudden, passing sensation of excitement, a shudder of emotion. It's the emotion that many feel when on a roller coaster, a feeling of risk, adrenaline and excitement.

I’m here to tell you that this feeling is OK.

It is OK to be excited that you will see your friends in the fall, while also being concerned they may have been exposed to the virus. It is OK you want to be able to visit everyone’s favorite establishment, Rick’s, while also being uneasy about returning to that type of setting. It is even OK that you want to be back in a classroom, while also hoping that those around you have been practicing social distancing.

All this excitement you feel is just as justified as the concerns and questions you have for returning to campus this fall as the pandemic continues on with no concrete solution.

Those questions will be answered in the future. We at The State News will make sure of that. Until then, continue to ask questions, be excited and ride that roller coaster of emotions. All I ask is that if or when you do return, do it safely, and don’t pack into Harper’s like sardines like we did in March.

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