Gonzaga University's spring break, originally March 9 through 13, was extended for one week and physical classes were canceled, moving online for the remainder of the semester. The stay-at-home order placed in Washington and similar orders around the country have given GU students and faculty no choice but to stay indoors.
But besides Zoom, how is the GU community staying connected?
Facebook pages are one example of how students are sharing their thoughts and having discussions in absence of a classroom or social setting.
Spencer Weiskopf, a senior at GU, has created a Facebook page called, "Gonzaga COVID19 Crisis Support Group."
“The purpose of this group is to allow us all to engage in a space where we can have the opportunity to be vulnerable with each other about how we are feeling at this time and onwards, and really be and act as a community in response to the development of COVID-19,” Weiskopf said.
Weiskopf said he created the page in response to a series of personal life events and feelings that took place in the weeks prior to spring break.
“One of the things I've been working on personally, is being more honest about the feelings that I have,” Weiskopf said. “So, after a productive therapy appointment on the 18th of March and a little bit of interest screening, I hopped on Facebook, created the page and invited everyone that I knew to the page.”
Weiskopf went down the list of his Facebook friends and added everyone he knew at GU, one by one.
“COVID-19, from what I've noticed, has made GU students experience a variety of usually unpleasant emotions like anxiousness, frustration and sadness, to name just a few,” Weiskopf said.
But, at the same time, Weiskopf noticed COVID-19 made GU students more aware of the needs of the community and the opportunity presented to be there for one another during this time.
The page has 381 members and Weiskopf comments on nearly every post, offering his thanks to those posting for their vulnerability.
Posts offering rides to people who need to go grocery shopping, posts of reflection and expression of feelings during isolation, tips and tricks on how to stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic and articles written by GU students are a few examples of things being shared on the page.
Different Facebook pages have been created following the cancellation of classes and the stay-at-home order.
GU junior Brittany Robinson created the page, “SPO SPRING 2020,” which she said is designed to keep GU students connected during these times of extreme uncertainty, while providing some well-needed laughs.
“My housemate, Taylor Sipila, and I came up with the idea for a Facebook page when waiting to hear about the university’s coronavirus decision,” Robinson said. “I created the page on March 12 before online classes had been officially declared. It’s replicating Facebook pages, which have existed in the past for students remaining in Spokane for the summer.”
The group has 1,243 members.
People are posting everything from TikToks, to jokes, to subleasing opportunities.
“I think these Facebook pages are a great way of staying connected and knowing that the Gonzaga spirit is alive and well during this pandemic,” Robinson said.