Jasmine Jordan is a senior political science major in the College of Social Science with minors in educational studies and African American and African studies. Jordan is a member of the 2020 Homecoming Court.
I think I speak for all of the members of Homecoming Court when I say that this is not the homecoming or the senior year we expected.
I would like to use the next few minutes to share a fear and a hope, both made pertinent by COVID-19. The fear is that isolation will undermine what is so special about the university. The origin of the word "university" is a Latin phrase meaning "community of teachers and scholars." It does not always work out that way; my first research project at MSU was about alienation and isolation and how those two things can affect students who are racial and ethnic minorities.
But a rewarding sense of community can readily be found at universities like Michigan State. Being a Spartan has given me the opportunity to get to know my professors in class and on study abroad, and it has allowed me to meet a far wider diversity of students than I could ever have encountered at high school.
And I mean diversity in the fullest sense: personality, race and ethnicity, national background, socio-economics, sexual orientation, gender identity, students with or without disabilities, the list goes on. My closest friends belong to many of these identities, and I have learned much from them and will carry their friendship with me through life.
However, here’s my fear — that students arriving on campus will not have the same opportunity to get to know their professors or to branch out socially, that they won’t have the same chance to get to know people with different backgrounds, beliefs, interests and passions. I believe that being friends only with people like yourself can lead to a shallower university experience.
This is where my hope comes in. Because I hope that the students whose next few months (at least) will be shaped by COVID-19, will make the extra effort to connect with as many other students as possible. One way of doing so is to join registered student organizations, student government or advocacy groups on campus. The people I know in such groups have gone above and beyond to continue their operations while making things as accessible as possible to people in different locations.
For me, my involvement in activities has restored some of the richness of university life before COVID-19. Homecoming Court, in particular, has provided me with a much-needed break from isolation. Recording messages, answering questions and Zooming with the other court members has given me something outside of schoolwork to do and the chance to connect and re-connect.
I hope that other members of the MSU community will find ways of engaging, and I encourage you to be innovative, to take a chance and to do all you can to realize that ideal of the university community even in the midst of these troubling times.