Niku Radan is a broadcasting and electronic arts major at SF State. She has been taking her classes from her bedroom in Portola since the beginning of the pandemic. (Avery Wilcox / Golden Gate Xpress) (Avery Wilcox)
Niku Radan is a broadcasting and electronic arts major at SF State. She has been taking her classes from her bedroom in Portola since the beginning of the pandemic. (Avery Wilcox / Golden Gate Xpress)

Avery Wilcox

Xpress Yourself: Student perspectives on reopening

After a year-long hiatus from campus, SF State students anticipate a safe reopening in Fall 2021. Xpress spoke with five SF State students to hear their thoughts about returning to campus in-person

May 6, 2021

Do you feel comfortable returning in the fall?

Niku Radan, BECA major: I’m planning on it but it’s a bit complicated. I think that returning in fall isn’t necessary for some classes, just in general, and it’s complicated. I do want to go back in the fall. It’s also like, it’s scary to do so. Because you know, I was in lockup at home for over a year now.


Jennifer Valencia, communication studies major: Yeah, I would say so. I think for me, you know, I was fortunate enough to get vaccinated early on. And I know a lot of people are getting vaccinated. I think for me, it’s just a matter of what the university is going to do to make sure that we’re following the public health department’s guidelines. Individually, you know, I feel comfortable attending classes.


Katarina Spisz, anthropology major: Yes. And, no. So it’s a tentative yes because I know that obviously, COVID is still here. And there’s like different variants and everything. Personally, I would be able to go there easily, like, I would take the bus. And that would definitely be like exposing myself a little bit, on the bus to COVID-19. But I know it’s very complicated, because, like, obviously, everyone is saying yes, hopefully being as safe as they can, but I think I still have a little bit of anxiety because it’s a weird time.

So, yeah, so definitely anxious. I just want everyone to be as safe as possible. And, that’s why I am very grateful that SF State is allowing the option for virtual and in-person. So, that can hopefully be helped, like still with all the students?


Aaron Vega, accounting major: Yes, 100%. I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable ever since the lockdown because I’ve been working the entire time. I’ve kind of been fine. It’s just been kind of following what people have been telling you to do, and doing all the right things, masking up and washing your hands, just doing what you’re supposed to do. 


Carter Roa, hospitality tourism management major: I actually feel comfortable going back to next semester. However, I know that they’re probably going to do an option for online and/or in-person. So, preferably for me, I would prefer to just do school online at this point. 


What do you see as the biggest challenge to returning in the fall?

Niku Radan: I guess a possible spike (in COVID-19 cases), unpredictability of how the virus acts. 


Jennifer Valencia: It’s just seeing what the university will be doing to abide by the public health department guidelines. I know, even though the university is going to start opening back up, there’s a lot of unknowns, I feel like the overall challenge is going to be like addressing those. I know that we also recently made it mandatory to be vaccinated for staff and faculty and students if they want to be on campus. I think a question that I had as well, how are we going to monitor who’s coming on and off the campus? Or how we’re going to keep track of who’s been vaccinated?


Katarina Spisz: The anxiety and social anxiety that comes from being inside this whole time then reentering the world.


Aaron Vega: Class sizes definitely. How are there going to be more classes added because class sizes are going to be not as they’re not going to fill the room like they used to, they’re going to have to be spaced out. So I’m thinking like, the biggest concerns would be maybe the length of the class, and like class size, and running out of space for people who want to continue doing in person. And those, and then making sure everyone else is like, how are they gonna follow policy on mass, or we have to wear masks during class? Are we gonna take tests or whatever, we got to do, like temperature checks before walking in class. Like, it’s just a safe day,at the end of the day, especially for the professors who they’re seeing all of us, right? students as well, and other faculty. So we don’t want to put anybody under more risk than necessary. Right?


Carter Roa: I think it’ll be difficult to like, you know, place rules on students who just want you there for college and have their college experience. I also think the difficulty that will be there is like, you know, enforcing vaccinations, if we were to require vaccinations to be on campus, and then of course, requiring people to wear masks.


What is your favorite thing about virtual learning?

Niku Radan:I do the readings probably more now than I used to. When back when we had in real life classes, like in person classes, teachers relied on PowerPoints a lot more, which was actually a lot more helpful for me to learn. I’ve been learning a lot less, but virtual learning, but when I, I’ve been doing the readings a lot more.


Jennifer Valencia: I think just being able to have two things, being able to take classes, in the comfort of my own bed, I know, sometimes, you know, as college students, they get really tired. And a lot of us work multiple jobs. Sometimes we just got through it, we need to, we need to take a day off, or we feel like you might not be able to take a day off, because we have to go to class, I feel like having the option of you know, just sitting in bed and listening to your professor, you know, lecture I think that was very nice. 

Also, I’ve seen a lot of compassion from my professors, especially this year. They understand that we were all trying to make the best out of a not so great situation.


Katarina Spisz: The atmosphere of the classrooms, at least for the professors that I’ve had, they’ve all been really wonderful. Being in a personal classroom, listening to the teacher, the teacher may be standing or, or something like that in the front of the classroom, and then everyone’s sitting there doing their thing. And sometimes, it can feel kind of tense. So I guess being on a Zoom, like everyone is, like other cameras, and there’s a little square and stuff like that. And so it almost feels like it is more balanced. 


Aaron Vega:  Personally, I chose to do classes where I didn’t have to do mandatory Zoom meetings, unless they were instructed by the professor, which was awesome. So then I was able to work a schedule I could do and then still do all my homework in my studying. So that was actually pretty cool. And then having just more free time around the house to like, actually get things you want to be done is stuff I’ve been putting off.


Carter Roa: So my favorite thing about virtual learning, at least right now in his, I definitely got to be able to schedule things on my own time. I feel as though I will have a little bit more flexibility with how I do my work. As well, as you know, I’m able to just, you know, make more time for myself. One great thing about virtual learning is that I don’t have to think about, okay, how am I going to get from point A to point B, you know, how, like, it takes 30 minutes for me to drive from work to school, blah, blah, blah, like all those things that would normally take up hours of my day, technically aren’t an issue anymore, especially with virtual learning. So I definitely think like, the best part about it is, I get more flexibility to my schedule.


What’s your least favorite thing about virtual learning?

Niku Radan:I don’t remember anything. I took a class on, like the philosophy of like brains and like whether or not brains function like computers? I do not know. I don’t know what I learned in that class. I got an A. I didn’t pay attention to any of it. It’s crazy. I haven’t learned anything in over a year.


Jennifer Valencia: I would say definitely, just doing it virtual. Like, your whole virtual modality is so rushed, for me, I am the very I’m definitely a visual learner. But I’m also, you know, I prefer being in person. I think there’s something so nice about being able to like raise your hand or ask a question right away. I feel like there’s just something about in-person face-to-face interaction. I don’t know, it just makes it a lot better for me in my learning style. So I really struggled. I really struggled this year. Trying to, you know, learn how to do everything online and especially with like, asynchronous classes.


Katarina Spisz: I guess it’s like some teachers require that you put on your camera. And sometimes you don’t want to do that because yeah, like, whatever. So I guess sometimes that’s not fun, but I know that’s a very small thing.


Aaron Vega:  The least favorite would be on sometimes when we would have a mandatory like a morning meeting, I would work in mornings, and then that would be tough to figure out later. 


Carter Roa: I think my least favorite thing about virtual learning is that I tend to see that my professors are a little bit are a little bit, hate to use this word, but a little bit lazy, just because maybe they have a huge workload, maybe they have even more classes than they need, and they can’t even handle it. But, I see that my professors aren’t really teaching us or it feels as though I am teaching myself and so that’s definitely like my least favorite part about virtual learning.

What do you expect Fall 2021 to be like?

Niku Radan: I mean, I’m guessing it’s going to be kind of an expanded range. What’s happening now it’s like some labs are in real life. A lot of classes are taught online when it can be, and I think they’re going to be a bit more lenient when it comes to the classes that can be in person because we have the extra safety net of the vaccine. I hope we have more classes in person, I really need to take my video production class. I’ve been holding out on it because I don’t think it’s gonna be good online.


Jennifer Valencia: I have a feeling it’s going to be like a pilot type of thing, trying different things, seeing what works, what doesn’t work. I know, we’re going to be in a hybrid type of thing, but I anticipate that a lot of events are still going to be virtual.


Katarina Spisz: I think there’s gonna be just a variety of emotions from everybody, a lot of excitement. It’d be like nostalgia feelings in the first year and then also probably collective anxiety too, because the pandemic hasn’t gone away.

I really hope that the school will put an even greater emphasis on community building, so that everyone feels welcomed on the campus and safe.


Aaron Vega:  I think it’ll be kind of a rocky start. Because like, to be honest, like people haven’t been around people for so long. And it’ll take some time to get used to again, like, just kind of being in a large crowd like that. Because some people may have like, a phobia or some people’s like, you know, mental health, maybe. We don’t know how people are doing, especially in these times. I think Fall 2021 will be kind of like a test run. And then you know, kind of learn from the mistakes as they go. 


Carter Roa: I definitely expect reopening to be a little bit slow. I also think if this will be an opportunity for SF State to have more life on campus versus when like, in previous years, it used to just be like a commuter school, there weren’t many activities and things like that. So I definitely think this will be a chance for SF State to kind of change their culture a little bit and have more Student Life on campus.


What do you look forward to the most? 

Niku Radan: Interaction. I really liked the school’s campus, walking around this, that will be fun to just do that again.


Jennifer Valencia: I look forward to just going back to the library. I was so much better at the library, there’s something so like, it’s so nice about having a separation of workspace that I didn’t appreciate it now. Until we were virtual. And suddenly, my bedroom was my office and my, in my study space all in one and my place of comfort all in one. So I just really want to go back to the library to do my work.


Katarina Spisz: I’m looking forward to being able to connect with my professors that I had this the last two semesters and seeing them in person and just type in how grateful to be in their classes.


Aaron Vega: Being in a classroom setting again, I kind of missed that. Like interacting with other people and like the subject I’m in and I miss going to campus too, because I was fun, the drive up to school is as cool, being in school in the city was cool, and like opening they open up the wrestling room, so we could do MMA and boxing in there again. Because we were doing that before the lockdown.

Carter Roa: I think the thing that I look forward to the most is just being able to be in social gatherings. Finally be able to like, see, see people in person, you know, collaborate more with other students, especially, you know, then in my type of classes, I tend to have a lot of group projects. So it would just be nice to have to be able to just speak to someone face to face and see their faces versus like through a computer screen, or with there a video off, I definitely think it will be super helpful to have to be able to just see people in person. It’s just such a different experience. When you’re meeting someone in person versus when you’re meeting them through Zoom.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Nick Mazzoni
Nick Mazzoni
Nick is a Print/Online major. His goal for the semester is to hone his writing skills and continue to work as hard as I can to produce good journalism. He spends his free time working on his 1970 Volkswagen, playing guitar and hanging out with his family.

Photo of Avery Wilcox
Avery Wilcox
Avery (she/her) is a third year photojournalism major and museum studies minor. She's really passionate about wide angle verticals, reading Joan Didion and Eve Babitz, and Golden Gate Park. Pictured above shooting in Paradise Valley, Montana in October 2020. She edits art and culture focused content outside of SFSU in Chuck Magazine.

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    Jace GarrishMay 8, 2021 at 7:56 am

    Enjoyed the article, the format really gave a good sense of how people are feeling. A diverse set of majors and backgrounds to try and capture more different views and perspectives on the situation. Shout out to Carter a cowork from the past. Keep up the good work Maazzoni.