I have turned in the last of my assignments, and I should be celebrating the end of another successful semester in grad school, while preparing to help the students at SMU face another grueling finals week through events at Fondren Library.
Instead, I have been helping them find access to resources online, and we have been brainstorming ideas on how to connect with Mustangs as they are spread around the world, rather than gathering in our learning commons. Seniors prepare to graduate without being surrounded by friends, most likely without a job to look forward to or plans for the fall.
It is strange to come to the end of term with a whisper instead of a bang.
I live close to campus, and my family took a drive around the quad this past weekend. It didn’t look all that different from the above photo — two students were tossing a Frisbee back and forth. Someone was relaxing in a hammock. A child was riding a bike with her family.
And then I looked closer. Half of the groups were families, and only one or two clusters were made of college-age students. Everyone was at least six feet apart, and none of the women were wearing any makeup. No group was bigger than four people. Most people looked more exhausted than relaxed.
It’s wearying to not know how or when to move forward. The governor is apparently starting to open the state back up tomorrow, but universities aren’t mentioned in the plan, only public libraries. While I know that SMU is making tentative plans as they learn more about local and state governments are proposing, I worry about the possible spikes I have read as predicted if we open the campus too soon. And then I see the other end of the pendulum — the predicted loss of students whether or not we reopen, particularly of international students, and whether higher education can survive at all if campuses don’t reopen by August. And if we do open, what will it be like?
Perhaps there is a downside to all of this information? (That’s so strange to say as an information student.)
Today, I will take a deep breath and celebrate what I have accomplished and completed. Tomorrow, I’ll return to work, and at the end of the day, I’ll do the same. I’ll keep doing that until things change. Or they continue to remain the same.
After all, tomorrow is another day.
Associated Press. (2020, April 7). Even if campuses open this fall, colleges worry many students won’t return. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/even-if-campuses-reopen-this-fall-colleges-worry-many-students-wont-return-2020-04-07
Cher, A. (2020, April 14). Countries risk second wave of coronavirus infections by easing restrictions too early, says expert. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/14/countries-risk-second-wave-of-coronavirus-infections-by-easing-restrictions-too-early-says-expert.html
Garrett, R. T., Morris, A., & Barragan, J. (2020, April 27). Gov. Greg Abbott’s stay at home order expires Thursday, and many Texas businesses may open Friday. Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/public-health/2020/04/27/gov-greg-abbott-set-to-announce-relaxing-of-coronavirus-restrictions-on-texas-business/
Paxson, C. (2020, April 26). College campuses must reopen in the fall. Here’s how we do it. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/opinion/coronavirus-colleges-universities.html
Wood, G. (2020, April 27). There’s no simple way to reopen universities. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/colleges-are-weighing-costs-reopening-fall/610759/