A Year Later, COVID-19 Suffocates Social Life


Sivi Colberg, Staff Writer

March 12 marked one year since Colgate’s mid-semester decision to transition to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two semesters later, many students are back on campus and enrolled in in-person classes. Yet, while much has improved over the course of the past year, the Colgate experience is far from normal. Many students still rely heavily, if not entirely, on Zoom to attend classes, and social gatherings remain strictly restrained. While this temporary normal is all too familiar at this point, burnout is still real. 

In interviewing students about their Colgate experiences amid COVID-19, suffocated social life emerged as a major theme. Junior Owen Gordon expressed gratitude for the administration’s control of the virus, but suggested leadership could have better prioritized students’ social lives. 

“I think the school did an incredible job containing the virus, but they did not account for students’ social lives or social health,” Gordon said. “I’m looking forward to coming back to campus and having a more normal experience where I can have in-person classes and socialize with my friends.” 

While COVID-19 has altered every Colgate student’s social experience in some capacity, the pandemic’s toll on the first-year experience, particularly with respect to meeting new people, has been significant. First-year Zoe Bucci emphasized the pandemic’s impact on her social life. 

“[COVID-19] has mostly impacted my semester socially because the rules have definitely made it harder to have events that could facilitate friendships and things like that,” Bucci said. 

New to campus or not, nearly all Colgate students have felt the consequences of restricted social gatherings in their impeded abilities to spend time with friends and meet new people. Consequently, the student body feels less cohesive, according to sophomore Sarah Harris. 

“Being unable to finish my first year here I went home with a pretty small group of friends,” Harris said. “I expected things to be back to ‘normal’ when we came back for sophomore year, and I would finally be able to meet more people. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Rather, everyone has had to stick within these small groups that they made their first year here due to family unit rules and such. A year where I am supposed to expand my social circle and meet all sorts of people has started to resemble high school with ‘cliques’ solely due to [COVID-19] restrictions.”

First-year Lexi Kaminski echoed Harris in speaking to COVID-19’s toll on social life. According to Kaminski, however, being a first-year was advantageous in that she didn’t have a college experience to which to compare her adjusted year. 

“The best way I can explain it is, how has [COVID-19] not affected my Colgate experience?” Kaminski said. “I think for freshmen, we all had expectations about what ‘college’ would be like, and in that sense, I think we all feel a sense of missing out on that, but we also don’t have anything to compare it to. Realistically, I think it would have been easier to make friends, easier to find things to do on the weekends and we would have had more fun and possibly been less stressed, but I am also a bit grateful that I don’t have previous years at Colgate to compare it to.” 

Comparison to prior years, particularly for upperclassmen, has been difficult according to senior Nik Rajavasireddy. 

“It’s really difficult to contrast this year with previous years and not be able to have some of the traditions that we all really looked forward to for senior year. I think one way I have been coping is trying not to contrast my experience with what I thought my senior year would look like, which I think helps to make the best of this weird year,” he said. “The biggest adjustment has just been planning out social experiences and keeping in touch with people. With fewer in-person classes and fewer people spending time in public places around campus or town it is hard to have those quintessential random Colgate encounters with people. We have had to take it upon ourselves to make plans to meet up with people, especially because graduation is coming soon and we might not see some people again.” 

As restrictions slowly begin to ease, students are feeling a renewed sense of optimism for post-pandemic Colgate. According to Bucci, the ability to spend time with friends in dorm rooms has been uplifting. 

“My dorm is super close because we have to stay in there more than we probably would normally, so we’re all really tight knit,” Bucci said. “Now with the new rule about being allowed to go in each other’s rooms, it’s definitely less stressful.” 

For many students, everyday experiences have been tainted by COVID-19 restrictions. According to Harris, on-campus dining has been less enjoyable since the implementation of guidelines. 

I miss being able to go into Frank right away, rather than waiting on a line. Then, once I am in Frank, I miss being able to put the food that I want on my plate, have silverware readily available, fill up my water bottle and grab a baked good.” 

Similar to Harris, for sophomore Luke Ackerman, Colgate after COVID-19 is about getting previously mundane, but now coveted, experiences back. 

“I can’t wait to be able to hang out and walk around campus and town with my friends without any of the worries of COVID-19,” he said. “It’s definitely been a crazy year but it’s really the little things that I’m looking forward to most.”