Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

The Campus Diaries

They were cooped up for a year and a half—online, lonely, slowly going stir crazy. This year, when they finally got to campus, they went wild. Now they’re back in lockdown again. True tales from Queen’s, Western, McMaster and more

By Toronto Life| Photograph by Lars Hagberg
| January 11, 2022

There’s no playbook for this. In 2020, university students had little choice but to hunker down alone in their rooms, staring at screens and forgoing all the usual first-year revelry. This school year, they’ve ricocheted from online classes and virtual homecoming “parties” to in-person everything and back again. Their stories—about the frenzied fall, the fear of outbreaks, the isolation of lockdown—reveal a generation trying to plot a course through a world of uncertainty.


The Students and Their Stories

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Lauren Breslin: second year, Western “Things were feeling so much more relaxed. Then Omicron hit”

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Saayna Saxena: third year, McMaster “I’m just hoping Omicron doesn’t send us through the whole painful lockdown process all over again”

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Santiago Rivera: first year, Western “Everyone is labelling our year as the ‘crazy bunch’ ”

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Olivia Drava: second year, Trent “People need to be more careful, because some of us are trying to protect our loved ones”

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Ben Greenberg: first year, Queen’s “University students can be really stupid. That’s part of the experience”

Dispatches from the weirdest university year ever

Jalyn Mowry: first year, Brock “No one wants a Covid outbreak, but students want to let loose a bit because we haven’t in such a long time”


This story appears in the February 2022 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe for just $24.99 a year, click here.

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