Editor’s Note — Christa Rahl, a May 2020 graduate from the College of Journalism and Mass Communication, former Nebraska Today intern and Daily Nebraskan reporter, recently posted on Facebook about her campus experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. She had a unique viewpoint, helping fellow students as a resident assistant with University Housing while also attending classes and transitioning to online instruction.
Her summation of the semester struck a chord in the Nebraska Today team, spurring us to share it with students, faculty and staff. Rahl’s words reflect that the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s ongoing response to the global pandemic is guided by leaders dedicated to this being an institution where every person and every interaction matters — even when we’re six-feet (or more) apart.
I am a proud Husker alumna. ❤️
Now that my degree has been delivered and I can consider my classes finished, I’d like to share my thoughts on how UNL handled COVID-19 because it is important to look at how a university handles crisis both looking back and for students still deciding where they want to be in the future.
In short, UNL went above and beyond.
I have friends from all over the country that feel their colleges and universities gave up on them when (COVID-19) hit. I never felt that way at Lincoln. Here’s why:
University Housing and Dining Services worked its booty off to ensure every student living on campus would have a place to stay during this pandemic. This means that housing let senior international students stay for summer even post-graduation. This means they never asked why a student needed to stay on campus. And it means that students always had a bed to sleep on and meals in the dining hall in some way. It means that if students did go home, they were offered a generous refund. It also means that resident assistants kept working with the students left on campus to make sure everyone had someone to listen during such hard times. This is not the norm around the United States right now. Our students didn’t have to disclose any info or apply to stay on campus. We just made a spot for them. That’s special.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln also made sure students were equipped to finish their classes. This looked different for everyone but always included access to unlimited Zoom.
UNL has also kept up most of its offices on some way or another. I’ve played Disney Trivia with UNL Campus Rec as part of their intramural program; ranted in a group session with Counseling and Psychological Services; and have seen numerous other ways to stay connected to my classmates.
UNL made the graduates feel special. Nobody loves graduating during a pandemic but UNL made sure we each felt loved. This came in the form of a graduation box, a beautiful online ceremony and the promise of being welcome at a future in-person ceremony. My box had my cap and tassel, thank you cards, an alumni pin, a confetti launcher, a small pennant and a letter from my chancellor. All of this made me feel special and honored. None of my friends in other schools have been invited to a future ceremony. None of them received such a thoughtful gift. UNL is truly special.
Also, how could any of us forget the beauty that was the virtual spring game that Nebraska Athletics put on? Honestly, that feels like a million years ago, but it was wonderful.
I could go on and on (even more) but those were what stood out the most to me during this time. So, if you’re thinking about being a Husker, I’d highly recommend. If UNL isn’t high on your list, that’s okay. But make sure you take a look at how your top schools are treating this pandemic. Actions speak louder than words.
Go Big Red always.