First Year students return to campus to begin their studies in the New Year to experience their first Jan Term semester. Although not the typical college experience, students are excited to embark on new courses.
By Lenin O’Mahony
Life on campus finally returned this past Sunday, as hundreds of students returned to their dorms, and for the majority of those students, this would be their first Jan term at Saint Mary’s College of California. Jan Term, a Saint Mary’s tradition that helps distinguish our college from others, is usually a time full of activity, fun, and maybe some chaos. Students have this opportunity to explore new topics, to branch out from their major and learn something new, something different.
These classes are often unique, fun, and lively. Not to mention, the extra free time that comes with Jan Term gives first year students time to meet more of their peers, strengthen the relationships they formed in the first semester, and fall more in love with the Moraga campus.
Alas, this is unfortunately not the experience for the class of 2024. Many students are still at home, with just 36 new first year students on campus, who were not on campus last semester. In total, around 300 students moved in on Sunday and, while this Jan term is not the typical experience, there is still a general attitude of excitement from on campus students. Despite the ups and downs, this new experience and the opportunity to still come to campus is appreciated.
I spoke with Aidan Goveas, a Saint Mary's Rugby player and future 4x National Champion (Go Gaels!) who said that despite the limitations, he still views the campus as a place for students to flourish, and while he wishes it was a normal experience, it has still been good to be here. When asked about his Jan Term class he responded that he is enjoying the style of the Jan Term class, “White Folks and Race Talk.” He has been pleased with the opportunity to meet and talk to people who he would not normally see, especially because that tends to be hard with the necessary COVID-19 restrictions.
As a D1 rugby player though, it has been more difficult. Not being able to practice, and having the entire season on the verge of being cancelled, has been frustrating to say the least. “We are staying hopeful and just praying we get the green light to play, because that's what we came here to do, to play rugby” Goveas said. The Saint Mary's rugby team is nationally ranked at 3rd in the country, easily making us one of the best teams in the nation.
Another student, Yosi Diaz, said that overall Jan Term has been pretty mellow, but it is definitely nice to be back and returning to the habits of classes and studying. Diaz is Class Chair of the Associated Students Class of 2024, so she has been very aware of how different this year is for first years. She, alongside other class Senators, has been working to plan class events and keep students on and off campus connected and involved. “Being able to keep a class identity and ensuring students feel a part of a Gael community is very important, especially since it is so easy to feel disconnected with the distancing and online classes,” Diaz said. Because of how limited interactions can be, little activities have a lot more value for Diaz and other students. Walking to Oliver Hall for meals, zoom studying, and hikes are all ways to interact and engage the small on campus community.
Overall, while this has been no normal Jan Term for students on or off campus, we are still grateful for the opportunities that have been provided. Saint Mary’s students have proven themselves to be flexible and positive when it comes to living life during a pandemic. We are happy to be back in Moraga, thanks to the hard work of the Saint Mary’s community to keep us safe, and Gaels are living the college experience as best they can.
Victoria Vidales '21,