Sept 25, 2020 | By Emma Logan | Illustration by Xixi Qin
My dorm room sits quietly on the first floor, facing a courtyard. Between the grass and my propped-open window sits a stone pillar, where students can tuck away into the shade and have a seemingly private moment to themselves, protected by two walls. The day that Colorado College announced they would be quarantining South and Mathias due to COVID-19, many students were left frantically calling home to figure out their plans, and that meant many were looking for a shady personal place to do so. This, despite my best efforts to focus on my own ever-changing situation, resulted in me being privy to some of these conversations through my open window.
I vividly remember thinking that this would be a telling moment in my time at CC, mostly because it opened to my eyes to some of the immense wealth present on campus. Mentions of empty ski cabins and second homes available to escape to baffled me. Some students talked about their plans to rent entire RVs to travel back home. Others even weighed the consequences of just getting on a plane while possibly infectious. Even though I am by no means unfamiliar with privilege, I had never been exposed to such blatantly fortunate options before. This feeling was only amplified when the school announced they would be asking the majority of first years to leave campus and finish the semester out somewhere else.
I knew at that moment COVID-19 would play a divisive role in the culture building between affluent students and those who have felt underrepresented on campus for years. Who would have a home to go back to and who wouldn’t? Who could afford another plane ticket? Who would be able to take this time to travel, and who would be stuck in the same place in which they had always been? I could feel tension grow between new friends as these questions were pushed to the forefront of students’ minds.
However, in a shocking turn of events, the very thing I feared would further divide us is slowly convincing me that CC might actually have a chance to come together during this difficult time: Zoom.
Online classes provide insight into each other’s lives more than ever before. Each morning when we join, we are quite literally peering into the worlds of our classmates. This striking vulnerability reminds me how much we have in common, despite things that may have felt alienating back on campus.
Whether someone is logging in from their most recent travel destination or in a parent’s basement, we are reminded that no matter how different someone may seem from you, we are in this together. We can see what color our bedroom walls are painted or if we have stuffed animals on our beds. We are exposed to the posters we have up and the way our pets bother us during class. We might even know what each other’s parents and siblings look like walking around in the background.
Suddenly, COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to acknowledge the humanity of one another in a way that may not have been as present had we all been trying to assimilate to the CC community on campus. Instead, our existing communities are now merging into something new – something that acknowledges privilege without letting it be a deciding factor at play in our experience together.
And yes, I do have a stuffed animal on my bed.