Beyond Zoom fatigue

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In a classroom, the only student wearing a mask stands in the first row.
These days wearing a mask is a guaranteed way to attract crazy folks. MoteOo via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

There is much to look forward to this year on campus

The sun shines a little brighter on campus this year. The echoes of laughter, the hum of conversations, and the sight of students bustling somehow create a sense of ‘new normality’ that seemed distant just a year ago. For many, the return to campus signifies more than just physical presence. It’s a return to the vibrant campus life that we once took for granted: the impromptu coffee chats, the heated classroom debates, the joy of spontaneous plans, and the simple pleasure of a face-to-face lecture with that one favorite lecturer. Yet, as we look forward to an optimistic future, yesterday’s lessons from the pandemic remain vivid. 

Students who have been navigating remote learning are now actively participating in on-campus activities. A good education is more than just formal classroom training. It necessitates exploration, growth, and interaction with others that goes into living and learning in and as part of the community. We can finally say that beyond the confines of virtual screens, students can fully participate in campus life at U of R.  

One such instance was Orientation Day and Welcome Week held a few weeks ago. The atmosphere was that of excitement and anticipation. During the welcome week, students participated in different activities aimed to familiarize themselves with the campus and its offerings. The Riddell Centre hosted “Find your classes” sessions to help newcomers navigate the campus. The University of Regina Student Union hosted a delightful “Breakfast Owl” and for those seeking a challenge, an Escape Room event was set up at the Kīšik Towers.  

While the University of Regina Alumni Association facilitated “Coffee and Connections,” both in-person and virtually, the club fair on the Academic Greens was another event that was a success. Rows of tents and tables were set up, each representing a different student club. The Carillon was also on the scene. With a prominent table set up, The Carillon was actively engaging with students. It was a day of connection with students being familiar with the publications and even penning down their names as potential contributors. 

Yet, amidst this resurgence of campus life, it’s crucial not to overlook the shadows the pandemic has left behind on our society, especially for students. Though the transition from remote learning back to in-person has largely been positive, it has also brought to light the significant mental health challenges that many students face. According to Mental Health Statistics Canada, prior to the pandemic, 74 per cent of Canadians rated their mental health as good or excellent. However, this figure dropped to 59 per cent in 2021 and those who felt stressed constantly saw a more than threefold increase, skyrocketing from 4 per cent pre-pandemic to 13 per cent post-pandemic.  

The isolation and abrupt changes have left a mark that can’t be overlooked. The once familiar campus grounds might now seem overwhelming to some and the joy of interacting with others might be tinged with anxiety for introverts or those still wary of infection. The disparity in access to resources during remote learning also highlights the struggle of some students who had to manage with inadequate technological resources, unstable internet connections, or even unsuitable learning environments at home. In this way, campus counselling, peer support groups, and mental health awareness are as important as ever. 

As we move forward, it’s important to remember that while the physical threat of the virus might not be as staggering as it was at its height, the lessons that it has left behind should not be left in oblivion. The resilience and adaptability displayed by students, faculty, and staff have been nothing short of inspiring. Amidst all these, let’s remember to extend a hand, a listening ear, or a simple word of encouragement to those still finding their path in this new chapter. The post-pandemic world calls for a renewed sense of community, understanding, and empathy among the student community. Together we can go far, U of R! 

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