Flashback to March 12, 2020, reading an email from President McRobbie about campus closing while surrounded by all of my friends in the Math Assistance Center and a trip to Gatlinburg planned for Spring break the next weekend. I never would have thought this is what life in college would look like. We all expected to return to in person classes just a mere two weeks later. That never happened. Move forward a little over a year later, life is slowly returning to normal, but a new “normal”.

After hours and hours spent online for classes, work, and family time Zoom has played a larger role in my life than in personal socialization. It became my main source of contact with outside humanity, how I tutored struggling students while also working hard to maintain my own grades, and allowed me to see my family to an extent. It is safe to say Zoom kept me from falling into a black hole of depression. These changes were hard to grasp, but necessary for my success in school and in life.

While Zoom helped me in this sense, I feel like it took away a large portion of what the college experience is meant to be. I can barely remember a time where I bought a coffee at Starbucks, walked through the campus center, and had a face to face conversation with my professors. Instead, I am faced with black screens, names with no faces, and muted mics. In my opinion, this aspect of COVID-19 has decreased my level of learning and understanding while in college and made me debate if all of the energy and money being put into it was worth it. This is a common thought among many college students and universities “pressure from students to decrease tuition to reflect the downgraded experience they would be getting.” This harm continues throughout the community and neighborhoods surrounding IUPUI and the downtown area.

I often think about the hours put in by faculty and staff to make continuing online education in college possible. The time it took setting up programs like the MAC or the Speaker’s Lab, learning how to use Zoom, and re-evaluating every aspect of courses to ensure that students still received all the information to be successful. One of my professors that said “Old dogs can learn new tricks and I am proof of that,” which always made me grateful and understand how drastically COVID-19 has impacted my community.

The connection between COVID-19 and Zoom impacts the community outside of my college life. Local businesses that I frequented have closed their doors or minimize their capacities because they do not have the option to use Zoom or continue business online. I remember feeling sad and worried for friends who worked in such places. Where will they work? Are there disparities between the people being laid off? All of these thoughts cloud my mind and make me worry about the future of the city. Matthew Hag elaborates on the future city and its changes by providing examples of initiatives occurring due to COVID-19 in New York City to help keep business doors open.

On the other hand, there are vacant buildings throughout the city due to Zoom. These vacancies left a once busy and populated city stranded, which is a waste of space while homelessness is on the rise due to evictions. “While initiatives do aim to convert disused buildings into desperately needed housing,” I am unsure about how the city and policies will be enacted. These types of initiatives would drastically support the communities in need especially since the buildings are not being leased or used at all by private businesses. In doing so, drastic numbers of people are risk for homelessness would be reduced.

Throughout the pandemic, people and societies have been put to the test whether it be from online schooling, closing of businesses, or even homelessness, but it can be seen that our communities will persevere during these trials and tribulations. The perseverance comes from technological advancements like Zoom that allow us to live our daily lives in the most normal way possible. Some of these changes within society may never return to what once was and people will have to accept the new “standard” for what it has become to be. While this may not be ideal for everyone, it is the most effective way to evolve into the future and fight against future life altering events.