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The Aquilian

    The push to get students back on Eye Steet

    As part of an SGA initiative, Seniors Timmy and Conor Shaheen help pass out treats to students in Xavier cohort on Halloween.
    By Mak Krivka-

    When COVID-19 hit Eye Street, no one thought it would be as big of a deal as it truly was. Students were supposed to be back on campus after two weeks, the world was to return to normal, and the Class of 2020  would have the end of the year they had hoped for; however, everyone was wrong about that. The world turned upside down and schools have been left to figure out how they will give their students the best experience in this unpredictable year. 

    By mid-October, almost six months after the start of the pandemic, Gonzaga had its students in a hybrid model for school. Some students were surprised by how quickly they came back to campus. 

    “I didn’t think we would be going back to hybrid until second semester. So I was very happily surprised that we got back much earlier and did so quite successfully,” said Luke Jackman, senior. 

    With the hybrid schedule, Gonzaga now has one-third of its students on campus at any given time. Many sympathize with this year’s senior class, who no doubt has been affected by this virus. Seniors have been stripped of normal traditions and on-campus privileges. 

    “I believe that they are doing the best they can, and that is all we can ask of them. I don’t think there is much more that can be done. I appreciate what they have done and are trying to do. It’s very difficult to make much work and I realize that,” said Matthew Giarraputo, senior. 

    Most people on campus have come to terms with the realization that there is only so much the administration and teachers can do for them in the world of covid. Those in the administration have been working around the clock to do what can be done for the students and to make it feel like a normal year.

    To ensure the safety of the masses, governments have been putting out many restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. With so many in place, Gonzaga has found itself struggling to find incentives and activities for students to do. The most discussed problem is how to actually get students to come down to campus. Attendance levels on Eye Street have been very low at time and even worse for the oldest students on campus. The hope is that seniors will return in bigger numbers for the second semester, which is Gonzaga’s biggest challenge.

    “Attendance being low on campus for the first semester was definitely a problem,” said Mr. Jonathan Ruano, assistant dean of student services. 

    Gonzaga has taken unprecedented steps to continue to keep students engaged and learning through this difficult time through online conversations, prayer services and virtual competitions. One area of special concern is mental health; human beings are social creatures and the virus has done more than just get people sick— it has affected people’s lives and their desires to interact with other people. 

    “The lack of social interaction has really taken its toll on me and the nature of the virus has created new sources of anxiety,” said Jack Doolin, senior.  

    Outlets for students to let out stress and anxiety are limited, and the restrictions in place by the government stand in the way of many activities they were used to. While Gonzaga has been able to maintain traditions like Kairos and some on-campus activities, more opportunities will occur this semester, including senior class G days, upcoming senior only activities sponsored by the SGA and Gonzagafest.

    “I am grateful to be a part of such a great community during the dark times of this pandemic, but I do wish a little bit more action was taken,” said Alex Gerlach, senior.

    While every school in the area is grappling with the same issues that Gonzaga, the Gonzaga spirit is still alive even with the restrictions from the virus. Alumnus George Clifford, class of 2020, offered some optimism while talking about the school’s response to the virus and bringing kids to campus. 

    “Obviously, we all wish things were going differently, but I’d still rather be on Eye Street than somewhere else during this time,” Clifford said.

    While the virus still plagues the United States, members of the senior class have come together and decided to focus on the events they want to see, including their graduation. With vaccines coming out and teachers being eligible, some hope is in the air.  The class of 2021 will definitely never forget their senior year, for better or worse. 


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