By: Daniel Melool and Gilad Menashe  | 

We Asked Y(O)U Answered: Expectations in the Return to Normalcy

After more than a year of uncertainty, students are returning to campus fully in-person. Considering that the pandemic and its implications affected certain students differently than others, The Commentator has collected a few perspectives on how students are feeling about the world going back to normal. 

Rivka Shavelson (SCW ‘23)

Major: Speech Pathology and Audiology 

“I am definitely excited to be back in the classroom, learning alongside my peers and face-to-face with my professors. Despite the comfort and relief I feel from this return to normalcy, I am anxious about certain things as well. I am a second year student, but am still unfamiliar with the campus. Additionally, the day-to-day lifestyle change will contrast with my virtual habits that consisted of grabbing a snack from the fridge or taking a nap in between Zoom classes. I know that I’ll have to reprogram myself back to ‘real life.’ Although I am a little nervous, I am generally looking forward to this transition.

“The virtual classroom seemed to lend itself much more toward lecture-style teaching and less interactive learning. Though discussions are a vital part of the learning experience, lectures given on Zoom moved at a quicker pace and covered more ground than they would have in person. Additionally, many classes were recorded so that students could go back and listen to points they missed or needed clarification on. If I could keep anything from the virtual experience, I would keep the class recordings. This would aid students by allowing them to absorb material repeatedly.

“Being that this upcoming semester will be my first time on campus, it's hard for me to pinpoint my expectations. I imagine, however, that campus will be livelier and busier both in the classrooms and dorms. I think that a full student body will enhance the YU experience and will provide a sense of excitement. I am sure there will also be technical issues in readjusting to a full student body such as classrooms being double-booked or the Caf running out of food. After the first month or so, I'm confident that things will function much more smoothly as everyone –– students and staff included –– will be better adjusted to the routine and expectations of living on campus.”

Binyamin Jachter (YC ‘23)

Major: Computer Science 

“From the testing perspective, Zoom will never replace in-person testing. From the learning point of view, Zoom was just as good as absently watching a video online. If a class was pre-recorded, I can rewatch if necessary and email the professor if something isn't fully clear. In-person is clearly superior in the capacity for learning. Even just being in a learning environment is better than a corner of your house.

“Making recorded classes standard would be incredibly helpful. I studied by listening to class recordings. It also benefits those who had an off day and couldn't focus to not fall behind as quickly. Granted, that may lead to others’ feeling that class isn't required, but if you can perform well on exams and still be a part of the class, I don't think there is much to gain from having that attitude in the classroom anyway.

“I hope that the campus environment is back to complete normalcy, without the regulations of where and when students can hang out and the need for reservations to use facilities. As the world transitions back into normalcy, I expect YU to emulate that and reincorporate its pre-pandemic routines.”

Malka Kershner (SCW)

Major: Psychology

“I consider it a joy to return to in-person learning; however, the return to normalcy affects some students’ level of comfortably attending school. Zoom allows students to join classes regardless of physical location. Students from all over the world can contribute to the classroom in an easily accessible fashion. While in-person classes are wonderful, I feel strongly that the addition of a virtual alternative is highly beneficial for both students and faculty.

“Zoom is a wonderful advancement in making programs and lessons accessible globally. This is beneficial on many levels for both students and faculty. While in-person classes require limited attendance, vaccination and other regulations and protocols, Zoom is safe, limitless, inclusive and forward thinking. I believe if YU were to provide options of both in-person and virtual attendance, the result would be positive and provide easier accessibility to students.”

Ilana Aidman (SCW ‘23)

Major: Studio Art

“I’m happy about the transition from Zoom back to fully in-person because I’ll actually be able to pay attention in class and look at people’s outfits. There is nothing from the virtual experience that I want to keep — it was so bad. I do hope that it stays common for people to stay on campus for Shabbos.

“I think that campus life will, hopefully, be full of people. I also don’t think that masks will stay on as long as they did last year.”

Photo Caption: Stern College for Women

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University