College student: pandemic edition

Masked, distanced and often online, students begin their year at Hamline University.


Sabrina Merritt

“Stay healthy, Hamline!” and similar slogans are presented across campus reminding students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks and to stay socially distant in hopes to stop the prevention of COVID-19.

Anika Besst, Senior Reporter

After months of varying levels of isolation, students have begun their fall semester with a mix of modalities. Life as returning students knew it and as new students imagined has been redesigned to fit the pandemic reality the world finds itself in. 

With roughly 570 students living on campus this year, Hamline, like many places of higher education, has experienced a change in housing and enrollment numbers. This comes only a year after the largest first-year class in the university’s approximate 166 year history. 

Due to Covid-19, there is a campus wide mask mandate along with posters and markings to remind students of social distancing, as well as hand sanitizers posted next to nearly every door and elevator on campus. 

“It has definitely been interesting and something to adjust to,” said junior Emma Harrington in regards to her experience so far this semester. “I remember going on the first day and seeing everyone wearing masks and it was like an apocalypse or something.” 

Similar to classes, many campus organizations have moved completely online or to limited outdoor campus events. 

Senior Tranquil Bent has been part of Hamline’s mock trial program for the last three years. The competition season this year is completely online instead of their usual professional attire and court-like experience. 

“The public speaking aspect is really important and having it online really disrupts it. It is going to be completely different this year…” said Bent. “That was my favorite thing about the program, was the collaborative aspect of it, and now everything is online and it’s a lot harder to do a lot of those things that we did before.” 

The arts have noticed a similar shift. The music department has also needed to adjust their modality, with Hamline’s A Cappella Choir now rehearsing over Google Meet. 

“It is really interesting because the sound and feedback doesn’t play at the same time,” said Harrington, who is also the outreach chair for the choir board. “We’re definitely trying to find ways to adjust the experience so we can still talk about music and have a meaningful experience even though we can’t do the main thing we’re there to do.” 

The theatre department is devising performances both virtually and socially distant with professor advising, student collaboration and complete teamwork. 

“It’s exciting because everything is in a flux of change, but also kind of nerve-racking because there is nothing to be certain about,” said senior Ian Olson, regarding fall theatre projects. 

With almost every sport put on hold for the entirety of their fall season, teams attention has not shifted as practices are still underway. Nearly every team is separated into pods to allow for social distancing within any practice setting. 

“We have a whole bunch of new people on our team and I feel like I have barely gotten to know some of them,” said Maddie Sowiniski, sophomore on the gymnastics team. “We’re always split up or we’re not going to these outside events and being with each other, so I feel like there is kind of a disconnect.”

This disconnect was also felt by first-year and transfer students who participated in a hybrid orientation very different from years past.  

“It was different in the fact that the things I was super excited about are almost like watered down,” first-year Taylor Lander said. “Obviously I am still meeting people, I’m still experiencing things, I’m still learning about the community…even though I’m still experiencing those things, I am not experiencing them at the height at which I thought they were going to be.”

Hamline students have described what it is like to be a student in higher education during the pandemic as chaotic, challenging, adaptable, flexible, uncertain, fluid and difficult. Despite this, students have pushed on and are now in their fourth week of classes. 

“It is just a lot to think about,” Harrington said. “Because there is obviously a lot going on in the world and in the country especially with the way that we’re handling the pandemic, that’s really stressful just as a human being and as a student on top of that.”