The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably impacted everyone’s semester thus far. Coming back to school in the midst of a pandemic is stressful, and many decisions had to be made without any true certainty of how they will play out.
On top of the stress and uncertainty, just a few weeks into the first remote semester, a stabbing occurred at an off-campus party. Though it was off-campus, the incident was close enough to the students who are at Castleton to cause some panic and worry.
To put it simply – the beginning of this semester was rocky.
Dean of Students Dennis Proulx, however, is confident those days are behind us as Castleton ends this semester and moves into the next.
“Every year there’s a number of students who aren’t aware of the Castleton Way,” said Proulx. He went on to add that it often takes a bit of time for “transfer students or brand-new students to figure out what the norms are.”
In an interview with professor Dave Blow’s media writing class on Sept. 11, Interim President Jonathan Spiro had similar words to share.
“We always have issues with way too much partying, and noise, and littering, and drinking for the first three or four weeks of the semester. Every year… and then, after about a month, it really does start to die down,” he said
However, during that same interview, Spiro said that the events of the first few weeks really “sobered” students up.
“Our students have been fantastic ever since the stabbing, and I could not be more grateful to them for, really, kind of growing up overnight,” he said.
Castleton has maintained incredibly low COVID-19 positivity rates, which is impressive even as classes have been remote.
Proulx said choosing to be remote for the fall semester “took some pressure off” of his job as it has been “consumed by the COVID-19 response.”
Proulx, who was radiating friendliness even through a Zoom screen, was excited to comment on how students have been behaving well.
“There’s a number of students who are making sure to mask, social distance and stay home,” Proulx said proudly.
However, he notes that being in Vermont can lull everyone into a false sense of security, and he does not want that to be the case for the spring semester.
“Next semester there will likely be more students and faculty on campus and in classrooms,” said Proulx. More students and faculty means more risk.
According to Proulx, there might be a period where everyone must relearn what behaviors are acceptable during a pandemic, especially after such a long break.
The spring semester also comes with new guidelines and protocols that will be announced as it approaches.
In an email to the Castleton student body on Nov. 9, Spiro thanked students for their efforts in keeping the community healthy. He also urged them to “continue to be vigilant.”
“Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay 6-feet apart. This will help ensure that we have a successful end of the semester and that you can enjoy a safe Thanksgiving,” said Spiro.