Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier managing editor
Saying we are grateful to be back on Berry’s campus would be an understatement. After a semester of chaos and a summer spent in isolation, it’s comforting to be back at a place we often call home. With that being said, the feeling of returning to campus was accompanied with several different emotions.
It is completely valid to be excited to see your friends after several months apart and still be anxious about interacting with so many people. It is also completely valid to be excited about in-person classes even if you’re also worried about returning to campus. There is one thing that the semester ahead of us brings for sure, and that is uncertainty.
The privilege of in-person learning can be taken away from us at any second. We could be sent home and stripped of yet another semester. There could be an outbreak of COVID-19 cases and a lot of people might get sick. It’s scary to think about all of these worst-case scenarios but the reality is that they are very possible.
However, something we’ve been hearing on campus a lot for the past two weeks and something we find to be true, is that Berry students are a different breed. We truly believe that Berry students want to be on campus for in-person learning. Berry students want to keep their peers and the faculty and staff safe and healthy. Berry students want to adhere to the administration’s new guidelines in regards to COVID-19, no matter how different or strict they may be.
The difficulty does not come in understanding that rules and regulations can change at any given time, whether that means shifting towards more strict or more lenient. We have all been living through this pandemic since March and have come to terms with the fact that things can change on an hourly basis whether we like it or not. But the key to making it through this time of uncertainty, and ensuring that we can make it through a semester in person while keeping our community safe, is open communication.
The recent spike in the number of students quarantined on campus has caused a slight panic among members of the Berry community. While this is something we knew we should expect with everyone moving onto campus, it is also time to see if we are as truly prepared as we think. How administration handles this situation coupled with how students respond is crucial to the future of this semester.
Over the summer, the administration hosted several town hall meetings in which they addressed how they would handle an outbreak on campus as well as how they would communicate any changes in policy to students. As students, we are aware that rules and regulations can change at any time in order to protect us. We know that this is the only way that we will be able to safely stay on campus and we are willing to adhere to those policies if the administration is willing to openly communicate what they expect from us – even when expectations change, even when expectations are not what we want to hear, even if the best answer administration can give us is “we don’t know.”
We understand Berry administrators are actively working to make those ever-changing rules and policies more clear. For example, on Tuesday night, Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor spoke at the first weekly SGA meeting . The 20 minutes she answered questions cleared up significant amounts of misinformation for students. We at the Carrier want to offer ourselves, as well as the rest of student media, as an outlet for further effective communication.
Administrators in colleges and universities across the country have always had concerns about the effectiveness of student journalists. We are not yet experts, we have limited resources and we have to balance our work with our life as a student. However, the Carrier is a well respected source of information on campus. Our staff spends hundreds of hours a week to ensure we are producing high quality and accurate information for our community.
We will continue to do that, and we want to do so by interacting more with Berry administrators, faculty and staff. We want to be able to publish about rule changes and the evolving situation of COVID-19 at our school. Allow us to do so. Respond to our requests for interviews. Reach out to us about these major changes to give us the chance to cover them. We understand that now is an incredibly busy time for everyone in the Berry community. We also appreciate the time administrators have taken to speak with us in the past. But we also know that we are an under-utilized resource for students. Work with us to change that.