[EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether you are new to Lesley, or a returning student, the Lesley Public Post is your school newspaper. We will do our best throughout the semester to keep you informed and up-to-date.]
To say it has been a long summer would be a colossal understatement. For many of us, the past six months (a.k.a. half a YEAR!) have been exhausting, stressful, or downright boring. For some of us, they have been life-altering or tragic. No matter your circumstances, it has been weird. By now you’ve probably grown accustomed to our not-so-new-anymore normal— maybe you’ve found all the best Wi-Fi spots in your home, mastered the art of alone-time, memorized the one-way streets near your local grocery store, and expanded your repertoire of fun masks. If you’re anything like me, you may even be sporting a hip mask-tan (though in my case it’s definitely more of a burn).
Oh, and incoming freshmen: welcome to the version of reality where you know as much about what’s going on as everyone else does! You guys are winning fall 2020, if you ask me. But no matter your graduation year, if you’re a twitching ball of compressed anxiety like myself, fear no more the unknowns of online learning! Here are some tips I’ve compiled, after taking two summer-terms of online classes, to help you navigate this Twilight Zone episode of a semester.
- Check the “other” section of your inbox frequently. That’s where emails from the Office of the President go, and there have been a lot of those recently, containing important information about the upcoming semester. For example, last Thursday President Janet Steinmayer sent an email announcing a mandatory Diversity, Equity and Inclusion online training on Tuesday the 8th. Time-sensitive (some might even say last-minute) announcements like this are easily lost in our “other” With less than a week from the get-go to plan and prepare, it pays to check every day. If you weren’t able to attend the training, don’t worry! “We will be recording the sessions and will share them with students unable to join and will provide an opportunity to engage in conversation throughout the month of September to discuss the recordings in small groups” says Interim Diversity Officer Maritsa Barros.
- Invest in a comfortable and functional home-workspace. This summer, I thought it would be fun to attend zoom classes while sitting on a small blue pouf in my bedroom and using the edge of my bed as a desk. Not only was I wrong about that seating arrangement being fun, but I ended each class with sore muscles in my neck, back, and knees. Take it from me, you should save yourself some trouble and use a grown-up chair (preferably something with good lumbar support. Because your worth it). And don’t be lying in bed—that makes me (and I assume, at least a few other people) very uncomfortable.
- Learn to stage your background, if you care about that sort of thing. Suddenly its harder than ever to uphold a façade of collectedness at school. I’ve found that if I push my dirty laundry out of view and throw in a few potted plants and some warm lighting, my room goes from “messy” and “uninviting” to “homey” and “eclectic.”
- Always be hyper-aware of your camera and microphone. For the love of all that is good and holy, triple-check that both are off before you bring your laptop into the bathroom with you.
- Don’t drive on camera. No one wants to watch you tempt fate.
- If you want to feel more connected to campus, follow Lesley groups on social media. Not only can you find Lesley University’s official pages, but all sorts of student-run pages for groups like sports teams, clubs, student government, and affinity groups such as BIPOC at Lesley. And be sure to follow the Lesley Public Post on Instagram and Facebook for updates from our student journalists!
In an August 4th email with the subject line “Lesley University Fall Updates,” President Steinmayer also announced “Our deans and program leaders are developing plans to potentially enable the limited use of Lesley facilities for some cohorts including Threshold Program students, fall athletes, and students registered for a few courses in Lesley Art + Design (LA+D) that rely heavily on access to specialized equipment and labs. Students with limited campus access would be organized by program cohort into independent, self-contained modules.”
The Lesley Public Post reached out to LA+D Dean Amy Deines, Athletics Director Stephanie Smyrl, and Threshold Director Cara Gorham Streit for details about how many students they expect will be accessing campus this semester. We have presently only heard back from Professor Gorham Streit, who wrote “15 First Year students moved into the Sheraton Commander today! They all received COVID tests this afternoon and are quarantined in the hotel (along with 9 athletes and some resident life staff) until their results come back… they should be able to begin in-person life on campus Thursday. We’ll be using the 1st floor of Sherrill Library and the kitchen in Lawrence Hall for all of our classes and events. First year students will be here until mid October. Returning students are remote for now, and are invited to come after the first years leave for the next 5 weeks.”
As for the rest of us, “We will return as soon as it’s safe to those in-person experiences,” President Steinmayer wrote in her August 4th email. “We recognize that living and studying on campus is part of your intellectual and personal growth. In the meantime, I encourage you to seek out new ways to connect with what you are learning in and out of the classroom and to begin building the relationships and skills that will make you a generation uniquely prepared for a changing landscape. The uncertainty about when the pandemic will end is stressful for us all, but how we, and you, respond will define us.”
The student journalists of the Lesley Public Post are here (virtually) to keep you informed on what will no doubt be a historic semester for our institution. Welcome back, Lesley, and don’t forget: wear a mask, and wash your hands!!!