Bumpy starts and a busy “comeback” semester

Aly mask selfie

November 10, 2021 - 8:00am

By Aly Winks, Editor, VIU Voices

It is Fall semester Reading week, which means mid-terms are basically complete and students are readying themselves for the last push of assignments before studying for final exams and working on final projects.

It has certainly been a semester like none other. With the return to campus in September, emotions and anxieties were running high – it’s fair to say it was a bumpy start. And the experiences of both students and employees continues to be variable. The majority of us are back on campus for at least some of the time. However, there are some, both employees and students, who continue to operate remotely. And we continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic – for example, some international students are still struggling to get here, we still have to wear masks in our classes and some indoor spaces, and the proof of vaccination system is firmly in place.

Speaking for myself, I have found the return to campus of both students and employees, energizing and mood-lifting.

My department has been on the Nanaimo campus twice a week since September 2020, so the adjustment from the home office to campus was not quite as jarring for Communications and External Affairs team as for others.

However, in August and September the rapidly changing BC Public Health orders ensured we stayed on our toes, which included a lot of different types of communications including writing then rewriting every COVID-19 FAQ about a dozen times to reflect the new guidelines.

If the pandemic has taught us anything it is how to compartmentalize and adjust.

As we settled into the fall semester, days passed, and we realized that we could safely be back on campus. Anxiety decreased. We got to work on other things and think about other things.

We also were able to participate in in-person activities such as observances of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the evocative art exhibition, Winds of Change. We had opportunities to see exhibits like re-view-ed at the View Gallery and the VIU Digest has been loaded with opportunities to connect in person. Mariners games are back in our gym.  

None of these events are exactly what they were before the pandemic. Protocols must be adhered to, and until recently, capacity limits meant less people, but they are signs that little by little, we are getting there.

In the biggest nod to the future so far this fall, President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deborah Saucier announced the launch of VIU’s new Strategic Plan. After two years of consultation, drafting and redrafting, People, Place, Potential has been officially adopted as VIU’s guide to the future. This is the future that we, as a community, have declared we want. While the work required to do this, in particular the creation of the foundation plans and action plans, is at various stage of development (read Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Carol Stuart’s piece on how the Strategic Plan influences the new Academic Plan), it will help us all in measuring the work and initiatives we want to focus on in the coming years. 

Now we ready ourselves for these last weeks of work through the end of our “comeback” semester. I admit it’s not been an easy comeback, but I have faith that it will continue to feel more normal. Just the fact that I can stand in line at Starbucks and chat with the employees in the cafeteria when I get my cookie fills me with a normalizing sense of community and connection that was missing for so many months.   

Tags: In the Community