COMMENTARY: SMU Students Share Thoughts on Back to School

SMU students returned back to school Monday, August 23. While there are still some COVID-19 protocols in place, the beginning of this school year is drastically different from last year.

After a year of mostly virtual and hybrid classes, students are generally glad to be back in-person. Many students, including SMU junior Evan Bell, weren’t completely satisfied with last year’s virtual class format.

Bell recalled his experience taking virtual classes in his dorm last year as “sitting on a screen for hours on end” and fellow junior Joseph Mulholland said that “it was hard to pay attention.”

Others, like junior Hallie Jo Schroeder, felt indifferent about the virtual classes. While she thought they saved time, Schroeder felt she lost some study habits.

Another back-to-school topic of discussion is the temporary mask mandate announced by President Turner in an August 11 statement. While mask-wearing has become common since the beginning of the pandemic, students expressed mixed thoughts on masks.

“No one likes them, but I understand why we have to wear them,” said SMU senior Brennah Ungar.

Bell and Mulholland both expressed possible issues with masks: Mulholland pointed out that masks can sometimes make it difficult to hear people. Bell added that he liked learning without a mask over the summer, and is looking forward to the mandate being lifted. Ultimately, while SMU has not indicated the exact length of the mandate, masks will continue to be a hot topic.

Now that students are back on-campus and a new school year has begun, students are looking forward to doing things they could not do the year before. Both Schroeder and Mulholland are looking forward to seeing sports back at full capacity and boulevarding. Ungar and Schroeder are also looking forward to meeting people once again.

After one week of the new semester, one thing is clear: many students are relieved to be closer to normal and are hoping for a more normal school year.