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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


COVID-19 still a concern as students return to campus

The Student Center South has seen large crowds as students return to campus. | John Lomax/The Cougar

Today marked the beginning of the first day of the regular semester, and as such the campus was abuzz with the familiar chaos of confused students wandering between classes. 

Though the excitement of seeing old friends and familiar places was undeniable, many still felt concerned about students’ return to campus. While the University has stated that it feels it is now safe to relax COVID-19 protocols, some feel the decision was made too early, while others fear a repeat of previous semesters cut short. 

Taylor Laredo is a senior studying Political Science and the director of the Metropolitan Volunteer Program. Laredo feels that while relaxing some of the more strict COVID policies was a good idea, the University should continue to support its public health programs.

“As students, we all have common sense, and we can take common sense precautions,” Laredo said. “But I do also think that the University should continue to support its disease prevention programs.”

At the end of the day, the top priority for administration should be keeping the campus safe and accommodating, Laredo added. 

Pandemic concerns aside, Laredo feels optimistic about his organization and its goals for this academic year.

“We smashed our attendance records for our first event today,” Laredo said. “I’m so thankful for all the volunteers that came out today to make this event spectacular.” 

MVP is a volunteer-based organization with the stated mission of creating sustainable change for the campus and the local community. Students interested in joining can learn more on their website

Alan Vu is another UH student attending his first semester at the University as a journalism major. A recent transfer from HCC, Vu is beginning his UH experience as a junior. 

“HCC was good but it was kind of a mixed bag,” Vu said. “I’m excited to finally be at UH because there are a lot more options in terms of classes.”

Vu went on to say that though he appreciated his time at HCC, he felt that the campus was too disconnected and lacked a general sense of community. 

While Vu’s excitement to finally experience what UH has to offer was certainly top of mind, he also acknowledges that some students may struggle after having missed so much school as a result of the pandemic. 

“I understand there were definitely some students out there who were dragged down by COVID,” Vu said. “There’s definitely a rough road ahead for some.”

Global instability and international crisis have undoubtedly dominated much of the media in recent years and have led to an uptick in stress worldwide. This is only compounded for students, who are already dealing with the stress of an increasingly competitive academic culture. 

Sean O’Brien is in his senior year of UH’s teaching program. For him, the general stress of academia is more than enough. 

“I definitely feel a little nervous going into this year,” O’Brien said. “I’m student teaching three days a week, working a job and taking five classes.”

O’Brien went on to say that while he’s primarily concerned with his workload, he’s doing his best to stay ready for anything.

Ultimately, the atmosphere on campus is one of cautious optimism. Students are simultaneously excited to finally be free of the monotony of Summer, while also very aware that their experience could again be cut short by changing global circumstances.

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