A Student Reflects on a Year of Grace and Tough Decisions

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By Madeline Buitendorp ’22

A year like no other, but we are all doing our best. At least, that is the grace we need to afford one another. It is hard being a college student during a global pandemic! As students, we are already living with a multitude of unknowns. For some of us, it is what we will major in, for others, what career path is the best fit, and even more, whether we are good enough to cut it outside the Davidson bubble. Then add a pandemic and not knowing what our new normal looks like. 

Trying to help us navigate all of these unknowns are the Davidson administration, faculty, staff, alumni, and those who help inform COVID-19 decision making. We all feel the impact of these decisions and announcements in different ways, but, at the end of the day, we are all a part of the Davidson community. 

Although sometimes decisions can be frustrating and not what many of us thought would happen, giving each other grace and supporting one another as best we can is crucial. As a student, it can be daunting to reach out to members of Davidson’s Core COVID Response Team, but they are here for us. Personally, I am grateful to be a member of the Student Government Association’s COVID Committee. We meet weekly with Dean McCrae to brainstorm and discuss solutions to address the worries of students. Most weeks, our committee will get an email from Dean McCrae following up on what we have asked about or raised as concerns. Then, we will see direct action taken to address those concerns, which I find rewarding. It can be as simple as getting a volleyball net put back up, or receiving clarification of testing procedures or COVID policies, and even allowing us to have visitors again. It is very hard living with all of the unknowns during this time, and often we get caught up in wanting decisions to happen faster or more slowly, or not being happy with any decision at all. But, Davidson’s administration is here for us and is listening to us. Students are their priority.

While I may be unique in supporting Davidson through the SGA COVID committee, I have also been encouraged by the opportunities my peers have had to reach out and speak with administrators if they have concerns. There have been office hour-style sessions with various members of the Core COVID Response Team and senior administrators are meeting one-on-one with students, and are visible and available in public spaces like the Alvarez College Union for students to come chat. Plus, they always welcome hearing what is on our minds through email or anything else.

 I regret for my peers in lower grades who may not have been able to experience the typical in-person accessibility of our administration. What once were commonplace events like running into President Quillen at a basketball game or chatting with Dean Jefferson or Dean McCrae at a lecture, at times may feel far away and unreachable. But I have witnessed time and time again this year, that at the core of our administration’s work and decisions is a dedication to the success and well being of Davidson students and the community we have built here. Their empathy for the student experience and action to help however they can is unmatched. By no means is Davidson perfect, but taking action for our community when we are worried is what makes us who we are. That is how we fulfill our calling to build lives of leadership and service, and those lives start on this campus. So I encourage my peers to reach out and talk with administrators, faculty, staff, and fellow students. We are all in this together, keeping each other safe by following guidelines and working together to find the best way through this pandemic.

Madeline Buitendorp ’22 is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Educational Studies. Outside of her academic pursuits, she is a Terry Fellow, Director of Communications for the College Crisis Initiative (C2i), and works in the Merit Programs Office.

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