Undergraduate Update: COVID on Campus

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We know that many of our alumni Brothers have questions about how life at Morrill has changed given these uncertain times we’re living in. COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct our daily life, and the undergraduates are no exception. We reached out to our undergrads and asked them about what life as a AZ at Penn State is like nowadays.

Brendan Liebross 

Think back to your days at Penn State, people flood the streets during class changes, smiling, walking with friends, enjoying the days in Happy Valley where their biggest worry was whether the football team was going to beat Pitt (the answer usually being yes). Instead, the streets are empty, if there is a smile on the rare walker’s face it’s hidden behind a mask. Today nobody meets each other, there is no football team to root for (yet), no tailgates, and no Happy Valley. Some people stayed home, fearful of what awaited them in State College. Others found out, random testing of students who are trying to focus on classes, hybrid style classes with inefficient teaching, technology issues, and nowhere to turn to forget about life for a while. Clubs and Greek life see their enrollment diminish and recruitment halted by the inability to meet people. Coming back it was understood there would be changes, but the one change we never expected was Happy Valley losing its smile.

Donald Opp  

As I’m sure everyone can attest to, navigating our daily lives through these unprecedented times of Covid-19 have been nothing less than challenging and just plain weird. From attending all of my classes online, except for one that I have in person, to being told that everything, and I mean everything, must be done virtually has totally changed the way I operate as a student and as the president of Alpha Zeta. In terms of my academics, the true adjustment to this virtual learning, something that we are all now accustomed to, came near the end of last semester. Although being thrown in to, what we like to call Zoom University, was quite the shock for me, I had to quickly adjust to learning from a computer screen instead of an in-person professor. This meant changing my study habits, managing my time more wisely since I didn’t have that accountability of attending class in person, and having the self-control to turn my phone and all of my electronics completely off to limit distractions. Thankfully though, I have come to terms with this new format and accepted it for what it is which in turn has allowed me to continue my education much more smoothly this semester than compared to the previous semester. However, the biggest change and most impactful change hasn’t come in the form of virtual classes but instead has come as a member and a leader of a collegiate organization, more specifically a Greek organization.  

Everything that I learned last semester and from the former president about how to lead Alpha Zeta or any organization has been thrown out the window. First and foremost, the biggest change and in a way one of our biggest challenges has been the actual number of members who returned to campus instead of attending their classes remotely from the comfort of their homes. Currently, about half of the membership is here on campus and only about 8 brothers are living in the house. Obviously from these numbers, it is easy to see that many changes had to occur in order to accommodate everyone. House meetings have now taken the form of Zoom sessions so that all members can participate even if not on campus, many individuals have stepped up to fill positions for those not present, and numerous covid-19 related policies have been put in place to ensure the safety of our membership. Another challenge currently facing the house is recruitment. Everything Greek life-related has been mandated to occur virtually, and so we as a house have had the great opportunity to be flexible as well as creative in our ways for recruitment. Alpha Zeta has attended various virtual involvement fairs, virtual education meetings, and virtual zone days. Which has proven challenging but not impossible. Nevertheless, with all of these changes, I have gotten to see firsthand amongst the membership the optimism, the personal growth, the membership bonding, and the willingness to take on important roles of every single person. All of which contribute to the day to day operations of the house. And so, I am extremely proud and honored to be a part of the house during this time. For if it weren’t for the brothers and sisters of Alpha Zeta, none of these challenges or opportunities for change would’ve been possible without their efforts. 

Sam Loy 

COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge for me this semester. Due to the nature of the semester, I elected to not return to campus and did not take classes this fall. Instead I chose to work at home to try and generate some additional money I can use to continue to pay for classes when I choose to return.  

Last semester, I found it difficult going from in person to online classes, and found it especially difficult to change my way of learning quickly in order to be academically successful in this new way of learning.