Adjunct Professor Matt Micek explains the syllabus in his Biostatistics class in the Rockwell Academic Center on June 7. Monday was the first day of class for Summer Session I at Pepperdine.
Photos by Dane Bruhahn
For 332 Seaver College students and several dozen professors, life returned to some semblance of normalcy Monday, June 7.
Monday marked the first day of Summer Session I, or June session, at Pepperdine, and the University offers 46 in-person classes as it transitions back to in-person learning. The University began fully remote learning March 16, 2020. Seaver College also offers 21 online classes in June, Kendra Killpatrick, senior associate dean of Seaver College, wrote in a June 7 email.
Students began their four-week summer course and said they enjoyed the in-person interactions on campus, but the same students, like sophomore Jane Nwaba, also mentioned that the return may come with an adjustment period.
“I miss the energy of the people, all the students going around and talking with each other, laughing, fun,” senior Sean Allinson said. “I hope to get some of that in the summer session.”
Due to shifts in the academic calendar, Pepperdine is offering two summer sessions rather than the usual three. Session II (the July session) begins July 6 with 26 in-person classes, 18 online classes and a total of 252 students enrolled in in-person classes, Killpatrick wrote.
Pepperdine began offering voluntary in-person classes April 6, and professors delivered these 87 classes in a mixed modality format during the spring 2021 semester, Killpatrick wrote. Many students and professors attended their first in-person classes since March 2020 on Monday.
“I’m excited to see my students, to meet students that I’ve taught all year online,” said Brittany Corbucci, visiting professor of Italian studies.
Though the weather in Malibu was gray and rainy Monday morning, students such as senior Jayda Ruffus-Milner were chipper. Prospective students and their families roamed Mullin Town Square during a Seaver College tour, and current students walked to and from the cafeteria before and after classes.
“I’m just excited to meet new people and actually just be there physically with them,” Jayda Ruffus-Milner said.
The return to classes brought nerves for some as students and professors readjust to the social climate of a classroom.
“It’s nice not to be in your room, but that’s like a culture shock,” senior Jayla Ruffus-Milner said. “Class is very different.”
COVID-19 protocols, including masks, social distancing and single-entry and exit doors, remain in effect on campus.
With classrooms limited to 50% capacity — or lower if seating cannot be spaced six feet apart — and some professors choosing to teach behind a pane of plexiglass, Corbucci said the return would take some adjustment. Corbucci said she reserved outdoor spaces for her class throughout the four-week summer term.
“My goal is to make sure that my students feel comfortable because I think that we’re all a little bit nervous about going back,” Corbucci said. “Especially in a language class, if you don’t feel comfortable, then you’re not going to be able to speak and to learn.”
Campus resources also remain limited and restricted.
“A lot of things aren’t really open, but I’m hoping that things will open soon,” senior Caleb Lim said.
Payson Library is open on a reservation-only basis, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., weekdays only. Drescher Graduate Campus Library remains open to student-athletes only, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., on weekdays, according to the Pepperdine Libraries website.
The campus bookstore is also open, weekdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The Waves Cafe, meanwhile, is open on a limited basis. Weekday hours are 7:30 to 10 a.m., for breakfast service, 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., for lunch and 5 to 7 p.m., for dinner. The on-campus Starbucks remains closed.
The gate at the Seaver Main Lot was open for students to freely enter June 7, and the lot was crowded with cars.
When asked about challenges of returning to in-person classes, junior Reet Chauhan said, “Maybe just parking.”
Some students who began class Monday, like sophomores Johnathan Flint and Nwaba, attended their first in-person Pepperdine class.
“A couple of things I’m a little nervous about — just paying attention; I’m a lot more obligated to do that, I guess,” Flint said. “I’m excited for it. It will hold me accountable.”
Nwaba said her daily routine changed with the return to in-person classes but that she will “get adjusted to it.”
While many were excited about the return to campus, a few students said there were some aspects of online classes they would miss. Flint said he liked the freedom of eating during class.
“I actually liked online classes a little bit,” Allinson said. “It was nice to be right next to my bed and then take a nap after class. But yeah, I’m excited to be back as well.”
Generally, the Seaver College main campus buzzed with life and energy as Pepperdine slowly returns to campus activities.
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