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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Orji: Going back to campus means creating a new normal

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

COVID-19, whose numbers of infection have risen throughout the United States, has, at its peak, led to the shutdown of nearly the entire country.

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After about five months of quarantine and online classes due to COVID-19, schools across the United States are getting ready to open up. While death tolls and infection numbers grew despite the country’s efforts to mitigate the crisis, everything from playgrounds to concert halls were effectively shut down, and events were canceled within the first few months of the deadly outbreak.

It comes as no surprise that many students are ready to get back on campus and find a groove again. Five months of quarantining is enough time to want to see friends and essentially anyone that we weren’t stuck in a house with for more than half the year. It’s understandable.

But in order to create a new normal, there are certain grievances that must be addressed in our community and our campus. This includes the situations arising out of xenophobia toward Asian students, racial violence and injustices and a disregard for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by college students.

Returning back to campus means more than simply wanting to get out of the house for something more than groceries. It would slowly but surely entail what it means to be considerate with our choices and intentions. We need that to become our new normal.

Because of these grievances on our campus, we cannot help but wonder how important the safety of students is to college institutions.

As thousands of students arrive in the upcoming weeks at Colorado State University, the question remains: what exactly is planned for us? We’ve read countless emails about the new classroom structure, the new safety procedures and health policies. Perhaps the main concern should be that a college campus is absolutely no place to be during a crisis like this. We might as well enter a petri dish.

“Agree with your friends that you will connect with one another, just in small groups rather than big ones. And when you do get together, wear your masks.” -Joyce McConnell, Colorado State University president

Many students might have been counting down the days to when they can get back to a life of independence, socializing and late-night fun. For students approaching their final months at CSU, there are things to take care of, lists to complete and experiences to wrap up. In the same way, first-year students are ready to make new memories, friends and experiences.

CSU is soon going to be bustling with students and faculty going about their business. We are going to be experiencing the confusing combination of online, hybrid and in-person classes. We are going to share already tight and stuffy spaces with strangers from different parts of the country.

Social distancing is hard enough in Walmart where folks have a hard time understanding how far away 6 feet actually is. It is going to be even messier when you combine 40 or more college kids on the same dorm floor sharing air and bathrooms.

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How long are we expected to last in such conditions? And, most importantly, are we going to be safe despite it all? 

Students have read the emails, and the administration is doing all that they can, and  it is necessary for us to continue like normal, but our idea of normal has been greatly altered in the last few months. The reality that we knew before, of partying and socializing on campus, is no longer relevant if we expect to see any progress in our community. 

This year is going to be a bigger challenge than ever before. Therefore, it is in our best interest to better our habits and lifestyle in order to ensure a safe and relatively peaceful semester. However, if there is one thing that I believe this virus has shown, it’s that community effort is one of the most notable ways to make a change in troubling times.

Joslyn Orji can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @lazy_svndae_.

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