Laurentian students return to campus hopeful for a more normal year
The ongoing pandemic and the university's finances are still top of mind
Julia Brady is entering her second year as a Laurentian University student, but in many ways this fall is her fresh start. Brady spent last year living at home in Ottawa while she attended online classes.
"I didn't feel like I was actually going to Laurentian University, I was just doing school online. But now that I'm actually here it kind of feels real," Brady said.
Brady has now moved north, and is one of just over 900 students who will be living in Laurentian residence this fall. Residence move-in began on Thursday.
While the pandemic and the university's financial crisis remain top of mind, students like Brady said they're feeling hopeful for a much more normal school year.
"Just the experience, having my classes in person, meeting new people, making friends, and just the whole environment of being around people my own age is really is really exciting for me," Brady said.
Hopes for a more typical year
Laurentian's residence life manager, Joseph McGibbon, said he's confident that this year is "going to be way better" than last year for students living in residence.
"This year because of the guidelines we're allowed to do specifically a lot of outdoor stuff, but we can also do some smaller activities inside. So it's looking a lot better for the students this year, a lot closer to what it was like before COVID. Not completely there yet, but we're seeing a lot of positives," McGibbon said.
Second year student Zachary Willems lived in residence last year. He said the year went "surprisingly well" given the circumstances, and he's looking forward to having more social opportunities this year.
"I'm hoping that things are going to be a little more open and I'll be able to meet more people, new people. And some more events and activities that I missed last year," Willems said.
University insolvency 'a big upset'
While Willems and Brady are looking forward to their on-campus experience, there is still the cloud of Laurentian's financial crisis. Both students were affected by the university's massive program cuts.
"That was a big upset," said Willems, an education student who had been majoring in music, but has now switched to history.
"I decided to stay with the school because of how personable it was. And I really enjoyed the professors, even though many of the music professors that I had in first year I will never have again due to the cuts," Willems said.
Brady similarly decided it was worth it to continue with a Laurentian education.
"Yes they had money problems, but I still think that I could have fun here and I could like the environment, the nature, and it could be my home. So I was still willing to give the school a chance."