KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When the coronavirus pandemic hit Michigan back in mid-March, Western Michigan University moved its classes online and allowed students to head home early, which left the campus nearly empty.
Now, months later, students are returning for the Fall 2020 semester and they're having mixed emotions about it.
“For the last few weeks, it’s honestly been a total ghost town,” said fifth-year student Delues Whitfield during an interview with FOX 17. “I do respect the university working their hardest to try to incorporate social distancing, online classes, everything like that. But, for me, being here for five years has been quite an adjustment.”
Diamond Moody said it was an adjustment as well. She recently moved to Kalamazoo from the Chicago area and enrolled as a junior to study journalism.
However, starting classes online was not what she was expecting, she said.
“It’s bittersweet,” Moody said. “I would rather be in class than online. But, I’m just going to make the best of it.”
Moody’s boyfriend Matthew Stuckey, who’s plays football for the Broncos, said it’s bittersweet too.
He said he’s going to miss certain events like the annual Broncos Bash, a sort of welcome-back celebration for students.
“It’s basically a week where all the incoming freshman and older kids on campus, they try out for different clubs, fraternities and get to learn about the culture of Western Michigan, and just break out of their shell the first week of school,” Stuckey said. “So it kind of sucks that we won’t have, that we won’t be able to do that.”
This year, Bronco Bash will be held virtually in October. Classes begin a month earlier on September 2.
However, students said they're hoping the pandemic ends and things return back to normal so they can reunite and get together in 2021.
“Hopefully spring semester we can come back to campus, things will be a little bit normal,” Stuckey said. “We can socialize and do the fun things that we usually do.”