COLUMN: UM does fantastic job at bringing students back

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

Masks covering their mouths and noses, bins of clothes and other items from home in hand, pillows and blankets thrown over their shoulders or under their arm, and parents by their side helping roll in the suitcases, University of Montevallo students settled into their new home for the 2020-2021 school year on Friday, Aug. 21, with move-in day—a day that went as smoothly as you could hope for during a worldwide pandemic.

When we are younger, we always look forward to being adult, and our parents always told us we didn’t realize how good we had it. The real world is a monster.

But when we’re 18 years old, we can’t wait to finally be on our own. Making our own decisions and living our lives without our parents breathing down our necks. We think to ourselves “Are my parents crazy? I am living and breathing in this world already, so I’m pretty sure I’m already living in the real world. It can only get better, right?”

But then the year 2020 hit.

The country has battled the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 since early this year, there have been protests break out across the country for equality, and it feels like nothing has felt right since the ball dropped on 2019 and 2020 began.

So for a freshman class of incoming college students, for once, they were a little more optimistic than many before them. They dealt with losing their high school graduations, proms, spring sports, spring semesters with friends and other difficult times.

As for returning students, the moment was just as joyous. After leaving early last March with more than a month left in the spring semester, nothing has felt normal since.

But to move back to campus, return to classes, be around familiar faces and see familiar sights, their lives are slowly becoming what college student’s life should be like.

We’ve seen places like the University of Alabama and Auburn University prominently in the news for COVID-19 cases and students not wearing masks while out at bars.

And while all of us graduates sit back and watch with a judgmental eye, we should look in the mirror and deeply glare at the person we were in college.

How many of us can truly say, after living at home for 18 years and being told what to do, that the first time we get a chance to be on our own, we were going to do what somebody else was telling us to do?

As students at the University of Montevallo now have that same chance to make their own choices, move-in day was handled perfectly by the staff, parents and students.

Moving forward it’s all on them to do the right thing, but for that one day, the students were all smiles, masked up and enjoyed unpacking in their new rooms.

UM is taking precautions to make sure they remain safe, and there will likely be positive COVID-19 cases at some point if there isn’t already, but we also have to trust the students and young people we raised to be smart and still live their life at the same time.