Kendall’s Column: First Normal Semester since 2019


Courtesy of Olivia Gordon/Villanovan Photography

Villanovans are back on campus for the first normal semester since 2019.

Kendall Hayes, Columnist

As students enter their third week of classes, it is strange to think that for seniors, this is their first normal semester since first semester freshman year. Time is really a crazy thing. 


Last fall, Villanovans thought that the 2021 spring semester would be the last semester impacted by the pandemic, but clearly that was not the case. With the Delta variant on the rise, Villanova lasted about two weeks before University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., announced that changes would be made. So, a semester full of masks and random testing continued, and our “new normal” did not even feel new anymore. It just felt normal. 


Then, on Friday, February 11, 2022, Father Peter emailed the Villanova community that come that Monday, masks would no longer be required in classes. Yes, surveillance testing would still continue, but it finally felt like things were going to be as they once were: actually normal. 


It is unsettling to think that the last time the class of 2023 had a fully normal semester was its first semester of college. That was more than three years ago. It makes one think about how fast time truly moves. One minute someone is moving into South Campus, and the next they are in their senior house wondering how they got here so fast. If someone figures it out, please let me know. 


I look back on my college experience, and I don’t think I would change a minute of it. Of course, I wish the pandemic never happened. Yet, who knows if my and others’ friendships, relationships and memories would be the same if it did not happen. 


My college experience is rare. I met my four best friends the first weekend of college. They are sitting in my senior house with me as I write this article, three years later. They are my people, and I do not want to go back and see whether or not our lives would look the same if COVID-19 never entered it, because I am really happy. I think a lot of the 2023 class is too. 


I think the pandemic, as horrible, lonely, scary and sad as it was, allowed certain relationships to become stronger and memories to feel more precious. Classroom friends became best friends, and roommates became family. I know it did for me. 


My point is that because of the tight-knit circles due to social distancing mandates, real and true friendships persevered and developed during an incredibly dark time.


People will often tell students in the class of 2023 that we were “robbed” of a normal college experience, since all of our years included the word “COVID-19.” This is partly true, but at the end of the day, we all were robbed. Every single person alive during the pandemic lost valuable, precious time and people no matter how young or old. So, instead of looking back and reminiscing about something that never was, I say we should look forward. Because finally we can see the light at the end of this tunnel, and it is brighter than what it could have ever been before.