Monmouth Back To Normal

After two and a half long years of maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and testing for COVID-19, I think school is finally getting back to normal.

The dining hall and Student Center food court are two areas on campus that reflect the normalcy most of us know and love. The dining hall has sliverware and ceramic plates in replace of plastic and paper utensils, as well as more freedom to choose what you want. And, when you are done with the dirty dishes, the conveyor belt is finally up and running again. In the Student Center food court, students can order food in person, have more space to walk around, and finally use the pool table to play games with their friends.

Monmouth recently hosted a big in-person welcome for the class of 2026. Although I am slightly jealous that they got a big, warm welcome to Monmouth, while I had to be welcomed via Zoom, it is nice to see another aspect of Monmouth that is getting back on track to what the University was pre-COVID.

However, just when you thought COVID was dying down, the President of Monmouth University, Patrick Leahy, encouraged students to practice caution regarding COVID-19 and other viruses, such as monkeypox. Still, it feels surreal to finally get back to normal after two years of tension and uncertainty.

I have seen very few students wear masks; people are out and about, and students are no longer being scolded or reprimanded for hanging out with their friends in closed quarters. If you still wish to wear a mask for your safety, that is completely fine, and no one should tell you otherwise.

However, I am very excited to not wear a mask in class. While it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world to wear a mask, it did get bothersome after awhile.

I am also looking forward to finally have a typical year after experiencing college for the first time via Zoom and my second year being in person/online with heavy restrictions. I feel like I can finally connect more with my teachers in class and focus on the material they are teaching.

With the new school year kicking off, I noticed some teachers have opted for a no-computer policy in their classrooms. All the classes I enrolled in this semester do not permit the use of laptops in their class; instead, students are to take notes in notebooks.

I have talked to some of my friends about this, and most of their professors do not permit laptop usage in the classroom. My friends and I assume that because of the two years of Zoom/ hybrid learning style, the faculty is attempting to ensure that students aren’t distracted by their devices in class.

Some teachers do allow the usage of laptops if students have unique accommodations or if they request to use a computer during the class period. However, if you are caught doing work for another class, playing a game, watching a video, etc., the teacher can easily revoke that permission.

While I prefer using my laptop to take notes, I do not mind using my notebook to write notes. It isn’t the most significant inconvenience in the world, and if you need to use your computer to take notes during class, talk with your professor privately about it. I can understand teachers’ concern about their students’ level of focus.

I have been to a few events, including the hypnotist and bonfire, and was so happy to be with my friends living life the way it was meant to be lived. Not standing six feet apart from them, having faculty monitoring us if we were too close, and without a mask on.

I look forward to this school year. Although I am in my third year, this will be my first time experiencing what a typical semester is like— no masks, no social distancing. For that, this will be a year to remember.