Returning Home, But Carefully

When you step foot onto Colgate’s campus, it’s easy to leave the rest of the world behind.  Even without the usual vibrant social life on this campus, falling into the “Colgate bubble” was easy this semester. Now, as we leave campus and reenter into the “real world,” we have a great opportunity to bring all that we have learned this semester to our own communities.

The last time we left campus on March 13, we witnessed the first of many enormous social, political and economic changes this world had never seen before. Spread across all corners of the world, we were alone and self-isolation was easy.

This semester we were luckily able to come together and stay together for twelve weeks. We did so with intention, responsibility and I believe we all felt that importance. We did not take that for granted. Every connection made this semester was genuine, because now there is no time or energy to not be.  

Despite all of the restrictions on campus this semester and the many academic, emotional and social challenges each of us faced, being able to live in rural Upstate NY during the country’s largest spike in COVID-19 since the pandemic began has been a great privilege.  

Many of us will now be returning to places far more dangerous than here. Leaving campus will not be a relief for everyone and all of us will face new and unique challenges in this transition.

Leaving campus may feel like a relief, but everything we have been doing this semester, all that we’ve sacrificed, all the challenges we faced will be found wherever we spend the next ten weeks. Our responsibilities to public health are far from over. So, I encourage all students to continue to act at home exactly as we have during this semester on campus.  Besides staying vigilant with wearing masks, washing your hands and maintaining social distancing, continue to develop all the “soft skills” needed to survive this pandemic.

I challenge you to not let the isolation resume. Be genuine in making connections when at home. Be kind and appreciative of those in your community. Continue to be patient with yourself and others. Continue to hold yourself and others accountable. In the 10 weeks we are apart, find ways to be together. This semester was just a pre-season game, winter break is the playoffs.  

The world can’t afford us to let this be another typical winter break of mindless holiday eating, Netflix binging, ski vacations or endless online shopping and remaining silent at uncomfortable family dinners. Yes, we all need some time to tune out, and we have all earned a break. Use your time to not rest, but to recharge to be able to come back even stronger as we push for a more equitable world. Continuing to hold yourself and others accountable for being educated is necessary.

Outside of this bubble is still a society that allows for Quawan Charles, a fifteen-year-old black boy to be lynched, mutilated and receive no more justice than another hashtag. Outside of the bubble is still a nation so politically divided that it is nearly impossible for our democracy to function.

Through speaking with community members this semester, all of them were so happy that we were on this campus. They will miss us. But our hometowns have been missing Colgate students, too, and it shows. I have hope that our return will show real change in our communities just as it has in Hamilton.