It has been more than a year since Concordia University Chicago students and faculty experienced a ‘normal’ environment on campus. Following spring break 2020, CUC students were sent home for the remainder of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, some students have returned to campus, but CUC isn’t the same without all of its students, staff, and faculty and the numerous activities and events that bring us all together.
This will all be changing soon because CUC has recently announced its plan to have all students and staff members return to campus for the upcoming fall semester. The university administration hopes to have as much as possible return to normal, but they also recognize that there will continue to be COVID-19 restrictions set in place. “Our hope and our vision for the fall is that we will be somewhere in between what school looked like in fall 2019 and fall 2020,” explained Kathy Gebhardt, dean of students and vice-president of student life. “We hope to be closer to the 2019 version of what we call normal.”
The administration is working to implement all of the campus activities and organizations that we are used to seeing. Campus activities such as homecoming and triangle events will be once again available to all students. Sports will also resume with students being able to attend games and cheer on their favorite CUC teams. Gebhardt explained that while all of these activities are being planned to resume as normal, social distancing regulations and capacity limits will most likely still be in place.
The administration also plans to restore dorm life to how it was pre-pandemic. They will allow students the option to both choose their own roommates and the dorm building they wish to live in. The goal is to make it so students will no longer have to be grouped according to their affiliations, such as sports teams and theatre students. The administration will also loosen intervisitation restrictions and allow students to visit each other on different floors and in different buildings.
With the transition back onto campus, virtual classes will revert back to the in-person classroom settings that students and professors alike miss so much. “We want to be face-to-face just as much as you do,” said Gebhardt.
With that said, the administration recognizes that the fight against COVID-19 has not come to an end. Dean Gebhardt explained that the administration will make virtual classes available for students who may not be able to attend in-person classes due to underlying health conditions or because they live with a high-risk family member.
In addition to CUC returning to something resembling pre-COVID campus life, this fall will also see several new additions to the campus. A renovated cafeteria is currently under construction and is set to be completed in May. The Academic Center for Excellence will also be under renovation as CUC plans to move the tutoring center from the library basement to the children’s library in the Christopher Center. The new ACE center will provide an open tutoring area as well as several private study rooms. The commuter lounge has also recently been renovated and will be available to the commuter students attending campus next fall.
Coming sometime in the next two years, CUC intends to launch an esports team, with plans to transform what is now the Barnes and Noble in the basement of the Koehneke Community Center into an esports arena. The Barnes and Noble will move to the conference room next door in the same building. The arena will be available to members as well as all students as a gaming area and hangout space.
CUC Administration is very excited about these changes and hopes that they will further improve students’ experiences on campus. “Our goal is to give you the college experience that you always dreamed for and that you imagined,” said Gebhardt.