Smoke the Paper
Somehow about six months have gone by since the closure of campus and now, somehow fall is upon us. As the new “Lost Generation” of the Roaring ‘20s, we found our summers as drastically changed as the remainder of our spring semester. Maybe some of us were supposed to have internships or jobs that never panned out. Perhaps we all too earnestly believed the uncertain promises that this would all disappear in the hot summer weather. Though it is entirely likely that we did not truly believe these statements, rather than be left with nothing to go on, we crossed our fingers hoping that it would at least let up a little bit and that we would begin to see the end of the nearly year-long turmoil. This was not the case. Instead, the stay-at-home orders remained in effect as we continued to get fat on banana bread, because leave it to a cataclysmic event to get the world to realize that maybe banana bread is worth a try.
All this notwithstanding, it is entirely likely that many of us, despite the uneventful nature of the summer vacation, still found ways to stay productive and social in the many ways that are enabled by technology in today’s day and age. That’s the adaptable nature of people, to find creative solutions to the woefully creative problems the world throws at us, be they large or small. It’s a beautifully underappreciated trait that we now see emerge from the dormant caves of the human condition, the bear woken from a long winter’s hibernation ready to forage and fight once again.
But now a new school year is upon us and with it came the hope that we’d be granted the opportunity to see our campus with its lights on once again. Within this hope was the chance for new students to have the same orientation experiences we had when we first began this grand journey, that returning students would be able to see their friends in person and that dorm residents would sleep on those foam mattresses that we may oddly miss without really truly knowing why. Yet this is not the case either, at least for the first month of the fall semester. A time honored tradition for all students is the first day of school, from the kindergartener walking into the classroom tightly holding onto a parent’s hand, to the elementary schooler with that new backpack and pencil box from Target, to the college student leaving home for the first time to go begin the next steps of life. Alas, this year, meet and greets were held over Zoom and many students across the country and the world are staying home to continue their studies. In the very same way that this past year’s graduates were robbed of the graduation ceremony they had hoped for, these new classes are starting off their experiences lacking the same pomp, yet still facing those same unusual circumstances that feel like they have only just begun. They are rightly upset, as anyone would be in that situation, not to mention the fact that taking a full day of classes staring a computer is considerably inferior to the classroom, what with the awkward background noise and stoic discussions, no matter how many times we’re told that clicking a “Raise Hand” button makes it slightly easier. Maybe some students will be fortunate to have a few of their classes in person when campus reopens in October after the holidays, yet for many that isn’t the case. And in the leadup to the semester, we were told that the University was prepping to give students a more “rewarding” experience but from what the past two weeks have shown, this is just an encore of the performance this past spring gave us, though at least that was excusable given the haphazard nature of everything.
Perhaps for the rest of fall and into winter, we’ll be gifted with some sort of reprieve from the disappointments of the past two seasons. Until then, however, it’s yet another sordidly (a)synchronous semester and the most will have to be made of the present situation once again, for better or worse. For all of our sakes may it be the former, which has long since faded away and because the memories of the latter are all too fresh.
Welcome back to YU.
Photo Caption: Yeshiva University Campus
Photo Source: Yeshiva University