Have you ever wondered what Sewanee was like before COVID? Have you wondered about anything that campus used to have before COVID changed the scene for incoming classes? The Purple met with Anna Püsök, a senior who has been here all four years, and was finally able to dispel some of the mystery around Pre-COVID Sewanee.
Firstly, Püsök explained that now, three years after the beginning of the COVID epidemic, Sewanee campus has more or less returned to how it was before. We no longer have online classes, require masking or social distancing, nor do we require vaccinations. However, “there were just some more resources then that ended during COVID that never came back–like Baccus, people could rent out cars,” Püsok said, “there was more support to help students get off campus to go to Walmart.” She said, “professors used to invite their students over to dinner at the end of the semester.”
Püsök made a point to say that these resources should come back, since resources provided by the school to help get off campus were especially helpful for international students. The strictness of the COVID policy and the lack of events, socializing, and inclusions of the bubble, had limited the incoming students for a year or two after COVID, but Püsök thinks that things have regained their liveliness on campus and her freshman and senior years are relatively the same.
Despite the hardships of the 2020-2021 school year, the student body (of returning and staying students) were able to push through the stagnation that COVID brought. It’s very comforting to hear that in just three years, our campus has recuperated.
Püsök also mentioned that the food at McClurg Dining Hall was different as well. “Like Taco Tuesday used to have chimichangas and burritos. They [just had] more variety but the quality of the food was the same.”
Of course, we are still in the process of bringing aspects of Sewanee back. The Spring 2023 semester is the first year since 2019, where the duPont Library was able to host the Edible Book Festival again. So, Sewanee’s return to normalcy is a long process that is hopefully still in the works.
Similar to the recent discussions about theme houses, the presence of important student resources may leave with the final graduating class that experienced them, so discussions like this are very important.
I have commented many times as to situations that happened on campus in the year after COVID. It was affecting the judgements, actions, accountabilities of many
aspects of society in and outside of Campus.
Youth are always resilient however it is the adults and those responsible for protecting the student body that were highly sensitized and in my view not always reacting from a responsible place that recognized their own biases and lack of understandings of things evolving and happening around them.
The actions of many Deans and students changed the lives of select individuals forever. The students affected, their experience or their reaction to witnessing the results of these actions being felt by a fellow student’s experience , or their witness of absolute belligerent dishonesty, misrepresentation, and negligence on behalf of the leaders and protectors will always be there to be reckoned with.
Effects of COVID ? YES, I witnessed many.
A big experience of social awareness and experimentation that in hindsight unveils a dark mystery more than just the perks of Mountain living.
I finally figured out the Cancel Culture had infiltrated the sacred halls and Inclusion and diversity took on the guise of quick judgement and Cancel was becoming a way of dealing with things uncomfortable.
I personally will always have a Love / Hate /Forgiveness relationship with Sewanee. There is a Bubble from many student accounts ; one that you are either in or not. Hidden struggles amid the inclusion and safety of the Mountain affect some more than others. Exclusions and the feelings of that will always be a challenge at Sewanee.
There is a comfort yet a mysterious darkness that the Angels of Sewanee just can’t protect from.
Many students have survived it and go on to tell the tales and share the magic. The magic is there however the spirits of many crushed moments and struggles are also there.
As the need for diversity continues and enrollment and school branding continue to reach further outside to reflect the world we live in so will the need for the Deans and the quickly developing policies require spotlight and accountability.
I continue to applaud the Purple and it’s young visionaries and learners of their craft as they continue to push forward and address the evolutions of Sewanee , past and present.