By Molly Seaman ’21
Despite social distancing measures and limited campus access, Colorado College students and faculty members are still utilizing CC’s campus as a meeting place for vital in-person learning and recreation.
One of the most active areas on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic is Packard Hall, where students and faculty continue to meet in-person for music and performance instruction. Professor Susan Grace, associate chair, artist-in-residence and senior lecturer in music at CC, played an integral role in establishing the procedures for practice rooms in Packard. These procedures include washing hands before and after entering practice rooms, practicing alone, staying in only one practice during the reserved session, disinfecting anything touched during a practice session, leaving 15 minutes in-between each student’s usage of a given practice room, and wearing a mask whenever outside of the practice room. An infographic containing information about new guidelines regarding usage of Packard Hall during the pandemic is available on the music department website.
Professor Grace also teaches an in-person piano adjunct this semester.
“It’s incredible to see my students in person. Even though we are separated by 10 feet and masked, it is so much easier to talk to them,” she says.
Her student, John Le ’24, noted how important in-person instruction can be for music students.
“The professor can give you great pointers in-person that wouldn’t be able to be noticed on Zoom,” he says.
As a music professional, Grace remarked on the benefits of teaching her piano adjunct in person. The ability to perceive nuances in the sound qualities of her students’ playing requires more advanced audio technology than video chats can provide. However, Professor Grace also says that her experience with remote music instruction positively influenced her teaching style by drawing more of her attention toward the minor details in students’ body movement. Ultimately, Professor Grace is managing to blend remote and in-person instruction during the age of COVID-19 in order to encourage the continuation of music education during these unprecedented times.
Grace has also encouraged music performance during the pandemic by requiring social distancing practices at in-person events and by making performances available online. She helped to orchestrate a socially distanced, outdoor “Music at Midday” performance in Fall 2020, and she works alongside other Department of Music faculty and staff members to organize online performances like “Live From Packard Hall!” and “Bang on a Can.” For more information about Department of Music events happening soon, visit the Department of Music webpage.
Music isn’t the only art that students can engage with recreationally on-campus during the pandemic. Bemis School of Art is hosting in-person classes, both for credit and for recreation. Brenda Houck, metals instructor, explains that the procedures are tedious but absolutely worth it: “I can only have three students in the workshop at a time, so I’ve been hosting three sessions throughout the day. There’s effort before to clean, there’s effort after to clean, there’s effort during to clean. But it’s so worth it to remind ourselves of space, to be able to have that human interaction along with actually being able to create something — to have something completed like earrings and rings and belt buckles and pins.”
Bemis School of Art is offering four in-person activities during the pandemic: block break classes like mosaics, drawing, and glassblowing; non-credit adjunct classes; studio sessions during which students can reserve classrooms supplied with materials in groups of less than three; and interactive in-person dormitory beautification projects. These classes are now much smaller in size and every material must be sanitized before a new person uses it, but it is possible for students to get creative at a studio on campus.
Jeremiah Houck, assistant director of the Bemis School of Art, remarked that the process of sanitizing can be mindful: “To hand someone a tool is not just to hand someone a tool. It’s to slather my hands in hand sanitizer, find the tool, making sure it’s sanitized, setting the tool down on a place that’s been sanitized, and then allowing the other person to retrieve it. I think because all that extra action is required, there’s a whole lot more thoughtfulness, intentionality.”
The Press at Colorado College is available for students who have taken classes at The Press beforehand and who are familiar with the materials to use. There are a number of seniors working at thesis projects in-person at The Press, where special precautions are being taken to make printing safe, precautions similar to those at Bemis School of Art. Aaron Cohick, printer of The Press, has also created five portable, wooden presses that are available for students to rent out so they can print at home.
CC is also hosting some classes on campus that are conducted entirely or partially in-person. Kate Lamkin ’24 was able to take her first two blocks at CC when she enrolled in her First-Year Experience class, The Roads That Lead to Rome. Professors Owen Cramer (Block 1) and Richard Buxton (Block 2) held classes over Zoom for the first hour and in-person for the second. Lamkin says that one of the class’s highlights was during Block 2, when they met outside in the labyrinth next to Shove Chapel to act out Aristophanes' play “Clouds.”
“We used the props our teacher provided and spent almost two hours acting it out. This day was a great distraction from the chaos of a pandemic occurring around us, a temporary escape to laugh about Ancient Greek literature and forget that we were attending college during a pandemic. In-person experiences like these have positively affected my freshman experience because they make me look forward to when I can meet in-person with every class and classmate.”
Chemistry Professor Murphy Brasuel is teaching in-person labs during the pandemic. He taught class online in Blocks 7 and 8 of 2020, and he observed that “there was more student stress during these blocks. It was very hard to help students mitigate that stress. I think an added challenge of our particular program is that our discipline is so sequenced. It really wasn’t possible to cut back on the content because the next class depends on students knowing that content.
“A lot of the stuff we do is hard to replicate online, isn’t perfectly replicated online, and so there is value to this model. There is a reason why we’re in the system of a residential liberal arts college.” Professor Brasuel acknowledges that teaching online did teach him more about how to enrich the class with technology, but he ultimately finds in-person learning necessary in the context of his field.
In the Art Department, Professor Meghan Rubenstein, Paraprofessional Noah Smith, and 3D Shop Supervisor Christiana Palma have been working together to help Professor Rachel Paupeck’s senior seminar students settle into their on-campus studios. Professor Rubenstein explained, “This responsibility included setting up individual, socially distanced spaces in the two large classrooms in Packard Hall and the Mod Pod, our temporary 3D building on Nevada.”
“Early on, we met with students in person, over email, and on the phone to get a sense of what supplies and furniture they would need to get started. We moved in easels, tables, a screen printing set-up, a digital drawing tablet, chairs, and stools. We created small kits with items students normally share so they could each have at their disposal measuring tapes, drafting pencils, rulers, cutting mats, x-acto knives, etc. We also created a supply request form online so students could write to us with additional requests, such as hand tools, camera equipment, foam core, drawing paper, charcoal, and scrap wood. We've also ordered supplies and shipped them to students who are not on campus but still completing the senior seminar requirements. By acting as points of contact, our goal is to make it possible for students to work without too many interruptions and keep them safe by saving them trips to the store.”
This list of in-person learning and recreation happenings on Colorado College campus is not exhaustive. For more information on in-person classes, students can refer to Banner or contact the Registrar’s Office.