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Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Prof. Eric Pallant (Chair, Environmental Science & Sustainability)

Anyone thinking about the start of fall semester 2020 must be despairing. Classrooms have been rearranged to separate every seat by six feet from its closest neighbor; chairs and desks are pinned corner to corner. Professors and students alike will be admitted to class only if their faces are covered and they respond favorably to an app asking questions about their health. On any given day some students, and some professors, will be attending only via the internet. Yuck. Sports? Music Ensembles? Theater? Parties? None of it is going to be the same.

It is understandable that some students are thinking to themselves, “Screw it. I’m not coming back in the fall.”

If you compare this upcoming September to September of 2019, of course you will be disappointed. But last September’s challenging discussion class, eye-opening field trip, instructive lab experience, chorus practice, or instruction in ballroom dance are not what you should be thinking about. In our Covid-19 world, we have to remember that if we come too close to the people we love we could be placing them and ourselves in danger.

If you don’t like the way Allegheny is going to look in the fall, ask yourself these questions. Would you prefer to spend the next 9 - 15 months holed up in your bedroom with yourself ? How much YouTube do you think you can watch in a year? Especially, while your friends are at school. Do you really think you’ll find (a safe) job to keep you busy? In a world coping with a viral pandemic and finally waking up to hundreds of years of systemic racism, nothing is the same as it was a year ago.

Think, instead, about coming back to Allegheny and being part of the solution. Can you lead a hike for participants with face coverings? Can you build a website that shines a light on black-owned businesses? How about a discussion group (faces covered, physical distancing, of course) on state and regional candidates up for election and their positions on climate change?

You get my drift. No one is more creative than Allegheny students when they put their minds to it. Surprise us not by trying to get around the rules, but by creating new structures that make us better people during difficult times.

~~ Dr. Eric Pallant (Professor and Chair, Environmental Science & Sustainability) interviewed by Faythe Schulte (Class of '22; Environmental Science/Global Health)

Let's take a long look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether this pandemic will bring out the best or worst in us? Take the first step towards your better self by clicking on the link to the left and making a small gift to Gators in need.


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