“Seattle is in lockdown,” my friend bluntly explained. What was meant to be a quick dinner in between study breaks turned into a long discussion of the COVID-19. I had the privilege of ignoring the coronavirus until that point. But now an entire city was in lockdown.
On my walk back to the library I received an email from Mike Brody. Two sentences in bold print scared the hell out of me: “Please accelerate your plans to move home or to another off-campus location as soon as possible. If you can go, you should.” The week before we were told campus would remain open, but things had rapidly changed. I was an off-campus student, but what this would mean for my friends who lived on campus worried me. What about people who lived outside of Oregon? Or my international classmates?
I have not seen most of my fellow seniors in over a year. I did not realize how many interactions with on-campus acquaintances would be goodbyes. A day after the email, I tried to maintain a sense of normalcy by studying in the library. I lasted an hour before dread and anxiety overtook me. As I walked out, I ran into an acquaintance who felt the same way. She lived off campus and needed a ride home. On the way to her house we made small talk and laughed about our anxiety getting the better of us. I dropped her off and that was the last time we saw each other in person. The next two weeks were a blur of transitioning to online classes, creating pods, and repeatedly checking the news. Eventually summer arrived.
In March, 2020, Louisville police murdered Breonna Taylor, and in May of that same year Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd. After Floyd’s death, many Reed students’ summers were filled with marching, organizing, and confronting the police. Many Reedies never stopped, and continue to work for systemic change in Portland and the rest of the United States
When Fall 2021 arrived, my thesis took over my life. I have spent hours in my room alternating between writing, revising, and procrastinating. The cycle continues to this day— writing this article is one of the ways I have avoided working on my thesis. Writing my thesis has been tough; this academic year has been marked by disruptions. In the Fall, we experienced fires and were exposed to toxic air. This semester we were snowed in and many of us lost power, some of us for a week’s time.
Overall, this academic year has been anything but fun. New crises constantly reveal themselves, school is even harder, and almost all of us have felt extremely isolated. Luckily, the vaccine rollout continues and it seems that the pandemic’s end is in sight. Go get the jab when you can everyone. I don’t want the juniors to deal with thesesing during this shit.