Marking A Year

March 5, 2021

Dear Students and Families,
It’s hard to believe that next week we will mark one year since all of our lives were radically changed by what we now know is a global pandemic. On March 14, the College moved all classes to a distance learning format, cancelled all campus events and required students to move out of their residence halls within the course of a couple of days. We did not know at that time what the future would hold or the course this new virus would take, but I doubt that any of us thought it would last this long.
I find myself reflecting on the past year as we approach this one-year anniversary. This year has had a profound impact on all of us, as individuals and families, as a College community and as a nation. We have experienced anxiety and uncertainty; we have dealt with sickness and the death of loved ones; and we have continued to grapple with the broader issues of racism, equality and justice in society. We have discerned how we are being called to both reflection and action. In this country, we watched a siege upon the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., which was not only an attack on democracy itself, but led to the deaths of 5 people. We have witnessed continued violence and hate against individuals because of their skin color, country of origin, gender, religion - because of their very identities. We have lost the ability to celebrate milestones, holidays and liturgies with loved ones in ways we had previously taken for granted. And we have also lost the small things - the ease of taking a walk or heading out of the house without remembering a mask; meeting a friend for coffee; visiting grandchildren, or going to see a movie. Our former sense of normalcy and community has been uprooted and I find myself and those I encounter (virtually) feeling it profoundly, especially at this milestone moment when we layer “pandemic fatigue” on top of the cold darkness of winter.
I have seen over the past year how the pandemic has upended the lives of our students. Their Holy Cross experience has been far from typical, and they have had to sacrifice their usual ways of gathering with friends on The Hill. They have not been able to enjoy beloved traditions like Move-In Day, football and basketball games, and the 100 Days Ball. At times it is difficult to acknowledge all of this, grieve these losses and find paths forward, especially when just trying to remain safe is so challenging. We feel the loss of free association on campus precisely because we have, at our foundation, a close-knit community that we rely on and where we thrive. But while we may not be able to gather in the ways that we like or do everything we might want, we are here as a community enduring these limitations together in this special place that we love.
A few days ago, while entering the back door of Fenwick, I noticed the tiny yellow tips of daffodils peeking out of the melting snow. In a couple weeks it will be spring. The days will be longer, the weather will be slightly warmer, and we all will be able to get outside to enjoy social spaces and fire pits, share meals under tents, cheer on our teams on the athletic fields, and participate in the many activities that we have planned. For our seniors, we will do our best to create a meaningful Commencement. While you will still miss some of our treasured spring traditions, maybe your legacy to future classes will not only be your resilience, but some of the new traditions you create this spring.
Next week is Family Week. We have a full week of live virtual events and pre-recorded content planned for you. On Monday evening at 7pm, I will host a webinar during which I will discuss recent highlights and key initiatives at the College. My executive team will be present to answer your questions. I hope that you will join me and participate in the array of wonderful events that have been planned for the week.
I know that this semester has been difficult in many ways, but we will get through it together. As we do in this wonderful community, we will hold each other up. Weathercasters suggest that next week will be warmer and sunny on the hill, and I look forward to seeing campus come alive with students enjoying the outdoors together.
Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.