Laptop with coffee and notepad

Community During Coronavirus

Despite closing campus for COVID-19, Hillsdale’s community and culture persevere.

Written by Emily Marsh

Eight months ago, I started my freshman year at Hillsdale College. At that time, I couldn’t have foreseen that I would be finishing my classes online at home. It’s not only my classes that have gone virtual, though. My email inbox still dings with weekly updates from the clubs and programs I’m involved in.

Last Thursday, I got to talk with about twenty Hillsdale students, alumni, and professors about the economic implications of the policies and practices the federal government has imposed during the Coronavirus outbreak. Hosted by the PRAXIS club, Economics Lunch Discussions have persisted, albeit over Zoom instead of in the formal lounge. Dr. Martin calls the discussions a “morale booster” for isolated free market economists. Despite being spread out over the country, at noon ET, Hillsdale economics students got together to do what they’re best at: discussing the value of the free market system.

PRAXIS isn’t the only club to go virtual. The Pro-Life Club continues to invite club members to conference calls with pro-life leaders. Similarly, SOMA, a worship meeting hosted by a campus ministry organization, hosted an online worship night and coordinated a speaker. And the German department still hosts movie discussions over Zoom.

The administration has continued to remind the student body that the best education consists of friends being physically present together as they tackle deep ideas. It’s certainly true that gathering in a classroom is much more conducive to learning than watching videos alone on your laptop. But despite the stay-at-home orders and the miles between myself and campus, the Hillsdale community doesn’t seem too far.

I see my beginning French class three times a week, and we still stumble through accents and vocabulary together. My roommate and I talk on the phone during study breaks like we would back in our dorm.

Staying home for weeks on end might be more difficult than we expected it to be, but campus life didn’t end when we left campus. Talking to my friends and classmates, now online instead of in the dining hall or classroom, has helped me appreciate Hillsdale’s engaged and intentional community. I didn’t predict it eight months ago, but I’ve become a part of a school that purposefully nurtures its community even during a pandemic.

Emily Marsh, ’23, studies Economics and Mathematics. She is a self-diagnosed coffee addict and she loves the water, meeting new people, and writing (on the good days). Her favorite part of being on campus is people watching when she’s supposed to be doing homework.

Published in April 2020