Reyna: Thoughts on being back

Christian Reyna, Staff Writer

Case Western Reserve University has opened its doors fully to its students this academic year in hopes of a step forward to normalcy. Students moved back in last month, some seeing friends they hadn’t seen in-person since March 2020 and some seeing campus in-person for the first time. Personally, I am happy to be back again, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with everyone in this column on being back to a full campus.

I was not on-campus in fall 2020, but I was on-campus in spring 2021. I got used to the quieter side of CWRU during that spring semester, but I did deeply miss the campus full of life and energy from my first and second years. When I checked into my housing this past August, I immediately noticed a huge difference from spring 2021. Northside was packed, and I saw more people in one day than I had seen in one month in spring 2021. The laughter of people playing sports near Leutner Commons, the sun shining on friends sitting together on the grass and my roommates chattering enthusiastically in anticipation of the start of in-person classes. CWRU seemed to be back again.

When classes did start again, it felt weird to sit down in a classroom inside of Glennan Building. My class of about 20 students filled the tiny classroom, all wearing masks. Everyone was giddy in their seats and the professor was excited to teach in-person, commenting on the struggles of teaching through Zoom the past year. I felt the same way. I could not learn properly through Zoom, constantly being distracted by my surroundings. For the first time in over a year, I sat down in a full classroom, fully paying attention to the lecture and feeling that I had learned something. Maybe it was the contagious excitement of my professor; maybe it was the thoughts that we are closer to being back to normal.

One thing I had forgotten about in-person classes was the long walks. I have easily walked more than 10,000 steps every day, walking from the Case Quad to Northside and back multiple times a day. I was huffing and puffing by the end of the first week, unaccustomed to the long walks since I was sitting in a chair for Zoom classes for over a year. On the bright side, all the walking has definitely done wonders for my cardio. Plus, I get to go through the scenic walk that was a staple of my first year.

None of this would have been possible without the vaccination requirement imposed by the university a few weeks ago. When I read that email, I felt a sense of relief. I did not feel comfortable being back when some of my peers were not vaccinated, especially if CWRU was going to be crowded and courses would be in-person again. The administration also told us that masking and testing would continue for a while. I am okay with the mask requirement and with the testing. Masking up may be uncomfortable for long hours, but it is important to prevent the spread. Yes, spitting into a tube for a COVID-19 test might be annoying, especially if you are slightly dehydrated, but it is a necessary thing to make sure we are not unknowingly spreading the virus. These measures are essential to ensure the spread of the virus doesn’t get out of control. I applaud CWRU’s decision to take these measures to protect our community, including our students, staff and faculty.

Overall, I am happy to be back again. Seeing old friends in-person has been rewarding. Sitting down in full classrooms and not seeing black screens makes me feel more connected with everyone. I feel more complete, especially since I missed out on most of my typical college career due to the pandemic.

As I start my fourth year, I have nothing but hope that we can complete an entire school year in person. We can continue a year like this if everyone does their part. If you are feeling sick, please contact University Health Services and stay home. Please wear your mask in crowded areas and follow proper personal hygiene. We have this opportunity to be back together again. We cannot mess this up.