New Hawkeyes anticipating in-person experience

With the wide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the University of Iowa freshmen are looking forward to their first college semesters after two school years of online learning in high school.


Katie Goodale

The University of Iowa Marching Band practices before Kickoff at Kinnick in Kinnick Stadium located in Iowa City on Aug. 17, 2018. During this OnIowa event, students were able to rush the field, listen to music, learn the fight song, and watch fireworks.

Meg Doster, News Reporter

The University of Iowa is promising a mostly in-person experience for the incoming freshman class, something last year’s class could not experience.

Annie Cowan, an incoming UI freshman, said out of all of her classes, she will only be attending one of them in person despite preferring in-person teaching as classes that have at least 150 students are online as a COVID-19 mitigation measure.

“I’m currently really excited because I had a lot of stress and anxiety about how my freshman year would look because of how last year went,” Cowan said. “I know that people were moving into the residence halls last year, but it ended up kind of not going the best because of all the COVID outbreaks.”

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Cowan said she has a lot more faith this year as a freshman because the UI is encouraging vaccinations. She said she got the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year.

State Board of Regents President Mike Richards said pre-pandemic college life would return for the fall semester in a May 20 statement, which lifted the regents’ state of emergency.

“The institutions are expected to resume traditional student life activities and opportunities effective for the Fall 2021 semester,” Richards said in the statement.

Johnson County is currently not experiencing high or substantial transmission rates of COVID-19. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 58.6 percent of the county is fully vaccinated.

In years past, both freshman orientation and On Iowa! included in-person traditions, like Kickoff at Kinnick and Convocation on the Pentacrest, that take multiple days to welcome the freshman to the university.

The University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University also went online this summer for their freshman orientations.

As it did last year, the UI’s first-year orientation took place online, but according to incoming UI freshman Jasmyn Jordan, that’s not a bad thing.

Jordan said she liked that students signed up for classes and attended meetings for orientation at their own pace online.

“I felt like the online format fit better into my busy schedule,” Jordan said. “But, it was somewhat difficult to navigate certain aspects of orientation, like scheduling classes. Luckily, my advisor was able to assist me with that.”

Orientation and On Iowa! introduce incoming students to the campus. Jordan said she didn’t connect to other freshmen the way she would have hoped.

“I was slightly disappointed that we were unable to interact with other students during our orientation group meeting,” Jordan said.

Anastacia Braslavsky, another incoming UI freshman, said they are thankful that orientation was done in the online format.

“I feel like it’s a little bit more convenient to do orientation online rather than in person,” Braslavsky said. “Just because I tend to be more anxious in social situations, which is how I went through my previous orientations for high school.”

Braslavsky said they like that they can listen to the important information that they need without having to drive the three hours from their house to the university to sit in a large crowd of people that they don’t know.

“I connect with people a little more easily than talking to them in person, which would be more awkward from my end,” Braslavsky said.

The class of 2025 spent about half of their junior and senior year in high school life relying on online learning platforms. While not needing to commute and learning from home were advantages to online school, Jordan said in-person learning is preferable.

Fall 2021 will have most classes in-person, except for classes with 150 students or more, which will remain online.

“I kind of wish I could go to those classes,” Cowan said. “So I’m going to only be able to go to one of my classes in person.”

The UI will only allow class to take place in rooms that follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ventilation recommendations, and physical barriers will be available for instructors to use.

The regents declared that masks or vaccines cannot be mandated in university spaces, with a few exceptions, on May 20. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law on May 20 declaring that Iowa counties, cities, and school boards cannot enforce mask mandates.

Though masks are not required for those who are fully vaccinated, individuals are welcome to continue wearing masks at the UI.

“As we approach the fall semester, I want to continue to call for all of our faculty and students to get their COVID vaccinations,” Richards said at the July 28 regents meeting. “The data is clear –– if you’re vaccinated, your chances of getting an infection decrease and your chances of severe illness or death drop significantly … As a retired medical doctor, I strongly encourage that everyone be vaccinated.”

As the UI freshmen prepare to move on campus, social media has helped foster a community among the UI’s newest class.

“Something that I’ve really liked is that I’ve been able to meet a lot of other University of Iowa students through social media, like the Class of 2025 Facebook, [and] different Snapchat or Instagram groups,” Jordan said.

Braslavsky, who said they find it easier to connect with people online because of their social anxiety, said they are a part of multiple group chats with other freshmen that they have met online and is looking forward to meeting them in person this fall.

“I’m really thrilled to partake in the On Iowa! experience,” Jordan said. “I saw that there are over a hundred activities, and the ones that I’m excited about are the Kickoff at Kinnick, bingo, museum exploration, around the world food crawl.”

Correction: On Aug. 4, The Daily Iowan incorrectly reported that the pronouns of Anastacia Braslavsky were she/her when in fact they are they/he. The DI regrets the error