From a student perspective, the way VWU has handled the COVID-19 semesters was unprofessional. Going back to 2020, our community, like other institutions, was very lost and in a position where decisions were made rapidly based on little knowledge of the current situation. However, I know many friends that went to schools of comparable size that did not struggle as much as our school did. While some schools compensated students’ fees and board completely for being sent home, our school gave an equal refund regardless of their bill. I am a math major but it doesn’t take two semesters of algebraic structures to figure out that students lost at least $1000. Despite this, the cost of a semester at VWU has increased noticeably.
In addition to questionable fiscal decisions our return to campus this semester has left students and faculty alike feeling torn. Some people are in agreement that the school has made the correct decision with the last minute mask mandate, while others are not as happy about the school pulling the rug out from underneath everyone a month before returning. Pandemic ethics are a highly debated and complex issue, but I am sure we all want to feel safe. With that being said, it would have been much different if the school said months ago, “yes, vaccines are necessary for a safe return, but we still feel it essential to wear masks indoors.” Although I am aware of many students and staff who were not onboard with the vaccine, most were okay getting it in order to return to campus with a sense of normalcy that was seemingly promised by the institution. There seems to be a common theme with the university putting out statements only to alter or completely revoke them some time later. Mistrust in the people that dictate our safety and happiness as a campus community is at an all time high.
There is no doubt that the past two years have been something from a thought experiment where any decision made is not going to please all the parties affected. Now, more than ever, we must come together as a whole and decide what is best for the individual and the community. The school takes pride in their belonging sense of community, something that larger schools cannot possess to the degree we can, yet there still feels like there is something missing. I have been a Marlin for almost four years and I have witnessed the highs and the lows so I feel that my views are representative of the greater student body.
My peers and I look forward to one day graduating and looking back on the memories of my pandemic years at Virginia Wesleyan. It is quite a rollercoaster ride to say the least, and I am thankful for my time here. The return each year to campus gives me butterflies, even after doing it three times previously, and the welcoming energy is unmatched for other institutions of our size. No matter the current world events I am happy to be an undergraduate student here and I would like to believe that the students here are willing to keep the spirit alive here, even if that means a couple unnecessary twists and turns along the way.
By Zach Hope