We are rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of the Troy University on-campus shutdown, which transpired on the back end of the 2020 spring break. I had no idea that when I told my friends goodbye for the break, I wouldn’t be seeing them not for five days, but for five months.
A lot has happened since then, my lifestyle as well as everyone else’s, have changed. Our habits have changed, our leaders have changed. Much is not the same as it was in March of 2020.
Ask 50 people how they have coped with the pandemic, and you will get 50 different answers. We all have found our different ways to make it through these complex and difficult times. But the way each institution, group, and individual has dealt with COVID has revealed some qualities, or lack thereof, that define them.
Today I do not particularly wish to focus on how the country handled COVID, but rather how Troy University and the student population handled the pandemic.
Troy University was uniquely advantaged in March last year, since the university already had sophisticated and organized online programs. While the adaption to online for all classes was certainly more rushed than I am sure was desired, the university already had a great infrastructure from which to modify classes to.
Anecdotally I can say that my experience with online courses was better than those of my friends who attended larger universities within the state, whose transition was not as smooth as my own.
The professors I had adjusted as well as could be expected, and I do not feel as though I was particularly disadvantaged by the situation any more than any of my fellow classmates. For that, the university deserves commendation.
Another quality decision Troy University made, despite student outcry, was to stick with the traditional grading system and not to switch to a pass-fail option. I believe it was the correct decision to reward students’ hard work by granting them the grades that those students worked for. To change the system so that a C student and an A student would both simply be labeled as Pass, was clearly the accurate call to make. Failure to retain the normal grading system would have been a slap in the face to the students who had to put even more effort than normal into receiving top grades.
So, in terms of finishing off the spring semester of 2020, I believe Troy University did the best job they could at the time.
Arriving back on campus was slightly aggravating and nerve-wracking, at least for me. On the one hand, I was annoyed that many activities I had grown accustomed to were either no longer available or were modified to accommodate COVID restrictions. On the other hand, I was wary of the university simply pulling the plug on in-person classes as soon as they were able to cash everyone’s housing checks.
However, we all learned to live with the new COVID guidelines, and the university never did shut back down. An act for which I will always be grateful. Again, many of my friends at larger universities had to suffer through online courses with limited campus activity.
All things considered, the fall 2020 semester was almost entirely as the spring 2020 semester had been before COVID, with the exception of class pods and masks of course. The fact remains though that I was still able to come to class every day, interact with my professors face to face, and attend on-campus events. These were luxuries that were not so readily available to other students at other universities.
Even though I wrote my favorite satire piece of my Trop career thus far mocking the university mask mandate, I appreciate the fact that Troy was doing everything possible to keep class in-person.
Troy University stuck to their initial setup, and despite the fact that many universities across the country, such as North Carolina, shut back down, we did not – an example of Troy truly being a beacon to the world.
All this happened despite the Facebook mask police constantly loosing their cool over seeing two students out on the quad without masks, and prescribing dates for when they calculated the university would close down again.
Their fear mongering was ultimately nothing more than that, hollow doomsday predictions from self-righteous individuals who thought they were better people for keeping a piece of cloth on their face when they were outside, 20 feet from anybody else.
Troy University should also be commended for its transparency when dealing with COVID cases. The school’s online database has allowed the Trop to keep a weekly and active count of COVID cases on campus.
Now with vaccine rollouts coming very soon, and several states lifting mask mandates, there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. Troy did a good job of weathering crisis, and deserves props for the university’s efforts to both keep students safe and on campus. In an entire full year, not one student died, or was even hospitalized with COVID, an achievement which the university should absolutely tout.
So to reflect on the past year, it was rough, it was stressful, it was difficult, but we have made it through the year of COVID, and hopefully this time next March, I won’t be writing a second reflection. Hopefully by next semester, this will all be a memory, and normal life will be a thing again.
So enjoy your spring break, a break most schools in this state do not have, another success on the university’s part. Try and relax, COVID cases are dropping, vaccines are becoming more available, and life is getting closer and closer to what it used to be. This time around, we will only be gone from campus for about a week, not five months.
Be responsible, be safe, and go Trojans.