The highlights of the social calendar have been snatched away from students

The loss of social events and rites of passages like Trinity Ball is mourned by many students

In our current times it is difficult to remember what a big part of student life social events were before the pandemic. It is hard enough to remember a world where we could meet a small group of friends without worrying about social distancing, let alone a packed nightclub or society event. But, until less than a year ago, these things were the norm, a rite of passage for students. 

So, here we are, over nine months later. No one believed that when Covid-19 forced colleges to close in March, we’d still be living with these restrictions by Christmas. Now, even summer 2021 might be in danger. Even with vaccine shaped light at the end of the Covid tunnel, there’s still a long way to go. But, time hasn’t stopped during the pandemic to allow us to catch up on the experiences we have missed when we return to normal. 

“College students have missed out a lot during this pandemic and many us have realised that we don’t cope with isolation all that well.”

College students have missed out a lot during this pandemic and many of us have realised that we don’t cope with isolation all that well. Our social calendar has become virtually non-existent and older generations often underestimate the effect this has on students. The time a person spends being a student is very limited in the grand scheme of someone’s life. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree may only spend three or four years of their lives in college. Missing almost an entire year of college experiences is something that cannot be replaced. 

After six years of secondary school, many students are looking forward to the fresh start that college can offer. The promise of what student life offers helps to get people through the many stresses of the Leaving Cert, knowing that at the end of it all waits a world of exciting new experiences for them. These experiences come in the form of Freshers’ Week, society events, and Trinity Ball, along with the many other nights out in various pubs and nightclubs.

“Students who struggled their way through six years of school have been robbed of a significant chunk of the experiences that they had looked forward to having in college.”

Now that the pandemic has forced all of these things to be cancelled, students who struggled their way through six years of secondary school have been robbed of a significant chunk of the experiences that they had looked forward to having in college. 

This is particularly relevant for Junior Fresh students, some of whom have yet to even step on campus as a Trinity student. These students will never get to experience their own Freshers Week in person, a huge rite of passage for every college student. That first whirlwind week is where many of us meet the friends that we retain for the remainder of our college years, something many freshers haven’t been able to do this year. Even though that first week can be very overwhelming for incoming students, it is also very gratifying for those who worked tirelessly to get into college. It is an experience that cannot be replicated down the line either.

For students who were first years last year, like myself, our first year certainly didn’t end up looking like we had thought it would. We have never experienced Trinity Ball or many of the big end of year society events we had looked forward to last year. Our college life was ripped out from under us just as we had settled in. Now, with whether or not these events will happen this year being in doubt, many of us feel our college experience is being cut in half.

For last year’s final year students, Covid-19 took away the very end of their college experience. From missing out on their final Trinity Ball and their last drinks in the Pav after final exams to losing out their last society events as students. This was without a doubt an anticlimactic ending to their lives as students. Though this was inconsequential in the context of a global pandemic, these last events are something those students can never replace.

The uncertainty surrounding next term and the probable cancellation of many of the rest of the year’s events is now weighing heavily on students. The slow nature of the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine makes it unlikely that things will return to any sort of normal by the end of the college year. A decision on major events like Trinity Ball has yet to have been made but at present it is very difficult to imagine any sort of large gatherings will be allowed to go ahead in the near future. The prospect of missing out on another full term of college events is miserable to think about when we’ve already missed so much. 

I, like many others, have struggled with the concept of time passing this year. The thought of missing out on potentially once in a lifetime social events plays on your mind especially during quarantine when you have endless time to think about it. The unfortunate reality is that nothing can be done to replace the experiences Covid-19 has taken away from us and it’s ok to be frustrated or even bitter over that. These things are a big deal and represent huge milestones in many student’s lives. 

“We should be allowed to acknowledge everything that we’re missing out on and how scary it is that time continues to pass anyway in this weird reality, whether we want it to or not.”

This pandemic is a lot bigger than us. The restrictions are important and it is important to follow them, especially so if we want things to go back to normal. The sadness and bitterness that students feel for missing out on their entire college lives during the pandemic can coexist with the knowledge that we are doing this for the public good. We should be allowed to acknowledge everything that we’re missing out on and how scary it is that time continues to pass anyway in this weird reality, whether we want it to or not. There is nothing that can be done to replace all of the things we’ve missed in the last year and the time in college that Covid-19 has taken from us. But we can acknowledge this while following the guidelines, washing our hands, and wearing a mask.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is the Assistant News Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Fresh Sociology and Social Policy student.