Back to Better: A Return to Campus and Community Living We Can All Be Proud Of
The past year was very difficult for our entire University and Chapel Hill/Carrboro community. Restaurants and businesses closed, students missed out on time-honored rites of passage in the transition in and out of college, and many families felt the ultimate impact of COVID with the loss of loved ones to this awful virus. We are in an improving place today, mid-summer 2021. Transmission rates are low, vaccination rates in our student and community population is high, and campus operations and the local economy are beginning the long and challenging road to recovery.
As we all prepare for Carolina's Fall 2021 semester, we are hearing, understandably, a lot of students talking about their excitement for a return to "normal". This sentiment is not surprising. Students miss their friends, and in many cases are looking to establish the friendships that form the backbone of their Carolina family and network of support through their college years. In Off-Campus Student Life, we have thought a lot about this "return to normal", and recognize that for many in our community and even among the student body, pre-COVID normal as it pertains to student social behavior was not always so great. Off-campus social life was, for many neighbors and students, problematic at best and traumatizing at worst. Excessive crowds, noise, trash, and alcohol/drug fueled behaviors including vandalism, public urination, trespassing, fights, and sexual assaults were all associated with so called "normal" student social behavior. We think we can all do better. We think we can come back, better.
So what does better look like?
- getting to know your neighbors
- keeping your property looking good at all times
- keeping social gatherings small and manageable and constrained to reasonable days/times of the week
- being mindful of noise on your neighbors
- being kind and giving grace to those you interact with
- learning the history of the community you live in
- engaging in sexual assault prevention work
- engaging in anti-racist actions
- volunteering time for the public good
What else would a "back to better" Fall 2021 look like to you?