As classes began again last week, many students trickled into the residence halls, their Greek housing facilities and throughout their residences in Macomb. Others remain in their respective hometowns, far away from Western Illinois University, to complete the semester in a remote fashion in an attempt to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus.
During a typical year, it would be safe to assume that the majority of students would be in Macomb during the semester. Now, many students have all online or remote courses and are choosing to complete them from a distance.
“I opted to stay home this semester for multiple reasons,” said sophomore student Molly Burns. “The main reason I came home this semester is because I was not able to get the proper nutrients in foods on campus due to my dietary restrictions. At home I have access to more options and a full kitchen to cook my own food in. Besides that, I wanted to come home be cause I felt really closed off on campus. I had no car, only one in person class and none of the clubs or activi ties I am involved in were allowed to meet in person last semester, so the only times I was ever leaving my dorm room or seeing anyone besides my roommate was to attend that one class or get food at one of the dining halls. Staying on campus no longer felt like a worthwhile experience or investment. I am lucky enough that my home life is a healthy place to live and learn remotely, but not all students can say the same.”
Unlike Burns, many stu dents have returned to cam pus and feel that being here in person is worthwhile. Even if their classes are fully online, some students continue to pay the price to live in their residence halls to continue their education behind a screen in Macomb.
“Unlike the Fall, most of my classes are actually in person this semester,” says freshman student Chloe Curl. “While the COVID-19 virus is something that is always on all of our minds, I prefer to be on campus and living in my dorm during the semester. I feel more connected to the school and more engaged in my learning this way. If I was at home, I do not think I could focus as much or earn the grades I intend to earn. I am also involved on campus and hoping that as the vaccine rolls out, we will begin to transition to more in per son meetings. I believe that Western Illinois University has policies in place that will help me not to contract the virus and feel safe at tending my classes and living here.”
Whether or not students have opted to return to campus for the Spring semester, classes and learn ing will continue to occur despite the challenges and changes that COVID-19 has forced upon students across the nation and the world. Only time can tell when it will no longer be a question if students will inhabit the Western Illinois University campus.