Editorial: Year review as students in pandemic

On March 9, 2020, the world as we knew it stopped. This was the date that some say was the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. As college students, we have a very unique perspective that no other age group has. We are coming into our own during this time where the world is paused. The Northern Star Editorial Board members would like to reflect on what we have lost this last year and how this time has truly changed our lives. 

Haley Galvin | Editor in Chief

If you would have told me when I left for spring break last year I was never coming back to campus, I would have laughed at you. But here we are, my senior year at NIU and I can say I will never get to see those halls and be a true college student again, and I haven’t been for a year. This past year has changed me in many ways, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified that change in every way.

I missed out on more things than I can keep track of. As I mentioned before, I missed out on a senior year on campus. I will never get to see any of my professors face to face. When that was a daily occurrence, I never realized how much I valued that interaction. Now that I see my professors behind a computer screen, I desperately miss that human connection and feedback. I missed out on fighting for a parking spot to get a class, an adrenaline rush I never thought I would miss. I missed out on rushing from one side of campus to the other to get from one class to another. And most of all, I missed out on feeling part of the Huskie community. 

Sure it is always there within us, but it is not the same. I will always feel that COVID-19 robbed me of my full college experience. I am praying that I get to walk the stage in May, but I am not very confident that will happen. The one thing myself and other students have been busting our butts for the last four years for, now will be taken away from us. It makes me incredibly sad to think about all the countless things I will never get to do. I cannot even list them all in this article. But one thing is for sure, as college students, we lost a hell of a lot, but we can hopefully be stronger because of it. 


Jamie O’Toole | Managing Editor

A year ago I had just started spring break as a sophomore, excited to come back to my friends and resume classes. Shortly before the week-long break was over, though, I had received an email saying students will be given another week of spring break, since positive COVID-19 cases were rising. Of course I was thrilled. Soon after that, another email was sent telling students that classes would resume online, we were not coming back and we would need to schedule a time to pick up our belongings in the dorms. 

It didn’t seem real, however, until I was cleaning out my dorm room completely separate from the friends I had made on my floor and the roommates I had just adjusted to. Unlike the move-in process, I imagined the move-out process accompanied by the friends I had made, but instead, the relationships I was beginning to form were shattered. 

I think COVID-19 severed the ties it needed to, in the most uninvited but necessary ways possible. They always teach you how to make friends growing up, but never how to unmake friends and grow apart when necessary. I think COVID-19 not only plucked the surface level friendships from my life, but planted seeds for my real friendships to grow in ways I never expected. Although I sometimes wish I got to see how the rest of the year would have played out, I know those who are meant to stay in your life will bear any storm and remain. 

It’s hard to imagine the people we might’ve been before COVID-19 because in a year’s time in complete isolation a person completely changes and faces internal breakthroughs that outside distractions prevent them from confronting, but everyone could use a fresh start to be the person they might’ve taken for granted, with the people they might have also taken for granted. Tomorrow is never promised, let alone an annual spring break. So, when everything is said and done and life is “normal”, I think we should consider living a little fuller.


Katie Barton | Opinion Editor

Being a college student during a global pandemic is one of the most demoralizing and surreal academic environments I’ve come to know as normal. 

I’ve always performed best being physically present in a class. I love discussions, and the change of atmosphere helps me concentrate on what I’m learning. In contrast, I became apathetic and directionless trying to do schoolwork within the same four walls of my bedroom day in and day out in quarantine. No virtual material felt real or consequential like a physical handout until a deadline met me square in the face. 

A year of student life during a global pandemic tested me academically, mentally and emotionally. Coordinating my personal schedule with classwork, homework and managing all the separate platforms for each class took up all of my available mental space. Using different platforms for different classes: Zoom, Blackboard classroom, pre-recorded lecture, etexts and Google Documents left me overwhelmed and segmented. Without a physical partition between class, work and life, I floundered. 

As a senior, I feel especially robbed of my college experience. I was never one for club activities or going to games, but here I am in the final semesters of my bachelor’s degree, and I couldn’t pin the last year to any specific feature of NIU. I wasn’t using campus resources, facilities or even walking the grounds during the pandemic. 

I miss the smallest experiences of student life pre-coronavirus: counting the water-damaged ceilings tiles in Reavis Hall, taking pictures of event flyers between classes, perusing Founders library for materials and spotting our beloved Huskie mascots Mission I and II on-campus.  

In my experience, student life in a pandemic consists of isolation and “attending class” on a laptop at the same desk in my bedroom for 12 months. 


Jacob Baker | Lifestyle Editor

On one hand, going to college online during the pandemic has been a very accessible and flexible outlet. Having the ability to do schoolwork in the comfort of your own space has been a nice change of pace. It’s like school on my own terms to a certain degree, instead of being always on the move to other classes or sitting in uncomfortable desks. 

On the flip side, it has felt like I’ve been shoveling money into the void. Why pay the same amount of money for a lesser experience? Taking a year off didn’t make sense, as I would be robbing myself of experience at the Northern Star, and I didn’t want to prolong my schooling. For better or for worse, going to school in the middle of a pandemic won’t be something I’ll ever forget. 

As an entertainment journalist looking to become a full-time film critic, the lack of new movies and releases has placed a significant void in my life. On average, I would be at the movie theater two times a week, but during the pandemic, I’ve only been four times. I can’t wait to be in a movie theater on a regular basis again and reviewing films week in and week out. 


Patrick Murphy | Visual Editor

The pandemic has been a blessing and a curse as a student photojournalist. A blessing in the skills and content I was able to develop and document, but a curse in the countless number of events and moments that never happened. Being out in the field gathering photos and videos of an invisible enemy was a challenge in itself. Yet the skills and experience I have gained have proved to be invaluable to me. Every single photo I have taken this past year feels like I have been documenting history in the making.

I remember when the world came to a halt in March and April 2020, I didn’t have a mask or a bottle of hand sanitizer to my name, but now they are essentials in my camera bag. Door handles scared me the most, going from building to building on campus. My telephoto zoom lens became my best friend, and the streets of DeKalb became a ghost town. I even remember going out looking for my first photo of a person wearing a mask. Despite the wrenches this pandemic has thrown into my educational career and work as a student journalist, I think I have a better understanding as to what it means to be a photojournalist.


Jarrett Huff | Sports Editor

A year ago this day I was preparing to head to Cleveland to cover the 2019-20 men’s basketball team in the midst of its best season in over a decade. It would be my first time covering a major event outside of Illinois. I was excited, and although COVID-19 was a presence, what would happen next was beyond anything I could have imagined. 

So many things I thought were unimaginable took place. The entire world of sports froze, and not just for a week or two, but for months. My source of passion in my career and for my entertainment was taken away in one full swoop. 

I spent most of the early months of the pandemic alone and stranded in DeKalb. I’d lost my car in Cleveland, my roommates had all gone home due to online classes, and by summer, few people I knew remained in town. I learned to appreciate how important the social aspect of life is, sharing experiences with people, and the importance of letting those close to you know how important they are.

The pandemic hasn’t been easy. School hasn’t been easy. Work hasn’t been easy. Life hasn’t been easy. This time in human history has taken away experiences in my final full year of college I’ll never have again. It has set back my planned timeline after school, kept me away from loved ones on the holidays, fiercely tested my mental health, confidence and personal relationships with others. 

Sure, the pandemic didn’t end in the early summer like I thought it would, and most likely won’t end before this summer is over, but that day is getting closer and closer.

I can’t wait for the day we shake hands without a second thought or walk into a building without a mask on our person. I can’t wait for the day when we feel no discomfort in a crowded movie theater or attend a class in-person instead of on a laptop. I can’t wait for the day we can all start truly living again. 


Kierra Frazier | News Editor

Being a student during the pandemic is an experience I never thought I would have. A year ago, I didn’t expect COVID-19 to reach DeKalb, as ridiculous as that sounds now. As an introvert, online school was a dream come true; I loved doing both my schoolwork and work from home on my time schedule. At first, I felt really productive getting a lot done from working at home and learning new hobbies.

But, a year later, it’s gotten old. I’m alone in my one bedroom apartment staring at my computer for eight hours or more a day for school and work. I only leave my apartment to go to the grocery store, and Zoom fatigue strikes as video call interviews for news assignments aren’t the same as being out in the field. While the pandemic has made me miss opportunities, such as summer internships, and has caused me to lose an on-campus job, it has also forced me to learn how to adapt to change.