A Student’s Perspective: Moving Towards Normalcy


Erin Hoeler, Contributing Writer

For the past two years, many students and staff had to re-learn how to absorb the lecture material and teach it effectively.

“It’s weird because everywhere you look, you see how everything was so different and so vibrant; now it’s very gloomy with no physical contact,” said Allison Luna, 19, of Ronkonkoma, a journalism major at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC.) While SCCC students could remain online or take their classes in-person, many chose to stay online.

“Zoom classes took away the chance to connect with other classmates. It is nice to be away from home, even if it’s just for 75 minutes,” said Allison Asimbaya, 23, of Islandia, a journalism major at SCCC. While the Zoom classes were convenient for many, there was also a sense of loneliness and loss of connection. However, with many classes back on campus, it is evident that while it may be more of a hassle to get out of bed and commute to campus, the pros of going in person may outweigh the cons.

“It was weird shifting back to in-person learning because I was used to eating breakfast while listening to my lectures, and it was a lot easier on my schedule. Now it’s like I have to time myself and wake up earlier than I would want to catch the bus,” said Luna.

In terms of adapting back to in-person learning, Luna added, “I am a commuter on public transportation, so it is a little bit difficult for me to have to wake up at six in the morning to catch the bus at a certain time. It kind of takes away from getting enough sleep, especially when compared to last semester.”

In terms of safety, while many students feel safe on campus, this is still a much-divided issue. “I feel 100% safe on campus at SCCC. The school has a lot of protocols such as masks, vaccination, and low amounts of people per class that allow me to feel that way,” said Sofia Holzhauser, 19, of Coram, Liberal Arts major at SCCC. To remain in accordance with the CDC guidelines, all students who are on campus must either present a vaccination card before being allowed on campus or must adhere to the weekly testing in the Montauk Point Room in the Babylon Student Center and will later continue in room 207B in Kreling Hall after Nov. 23.

“It feels weird to come back knowing that our generation has come to a point where it’s mandatory to wear a face mask,” said Zanab Qureshi, 21, of Selden, a Liberal Arts major at SCCC. “I still don’t feel safe knowing Covid still sustains, and I feel like it will slowly go away; I noticed people started to take off their masks like how it was before Covid came.”

For many students, this is still a major concern and a potential reason why many remain on the virtual side of SCCC.

For some people, such as professors, this may have made their experience at SCCC a better one. “I hope that the new normal involves a return to more in-person instruction and engagement, but with the incorporation of the new technologies and strategies that we’ve learned and developed over the past twenty months,” said Dr. Raymond DiSanza, the English Department Assistant Chair at SCCC. ”

For example, I would probably never have used video-conferencing for office hours pre-Covid, but I will always have that as an option now for students who want or need it.”

This allowed other professors to realize the seemingly ordinary things they took for granted and didn’t think twice about before the pandemic. “I think I’m a more effective professor when we can engage in robust discussions inside the classroom, when my sense of humor can be on display, and when I can see understanding or struggles on my students’ faces,” said Professor Sarah Grunder, an Assistant Academic Chair for Social Sciences.

“Now, students can approach me after class for casual conversations; they can stop in my office or engage with me in the hallways or the line at Starbucks. That’s a gift and something I no longer take for granted,” said Grunder.

Going back sounds like a viable option; however, with the current uncertainties in the world, they are still weighing their options.

“I really do want to go back, but with the pressure of the world and Covid, it makes it hard to decide what to do. If I did go back, it would definitely need to be in person because that’s how I learn. With enough regulation and students and staff vaxxed, I would feel safe enough to learn in that environment, even if I still have a bit of anxiety,” said Marcus Feria, 19, of Farmingville, former Liberal Arts major at SCCC.

“I think, or at least like to hope, that people will be more conscious about germs and others around them instead of being so selfish. I hope masks become more normal when you’re sick to not get others sick and just help others out.”

While many students have differing opinions regarding this issue, the campus does offer many different types of classes, including synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid options, to allow for their students’ flexibility and safety.

“When it comes to the “new normal” you never know. It all depends on the pandemic and the direction it takes us. With how everyone is adhering to the school’s guidelines, we can adapt to anything, said Asimbaya. “I think everyone wants Covid to be over, and if that means abiding by the college’s guidelines, we are creating a safe environment for everyone.”