A Year to Remember

Because how could we forget it?

Todd Rosenberg and daughter Bella sit on her dorm room bunk bed, wearing face masks

Bella Rosenberg x’24 and father Todd Rosenberg ’90 took advantage of UW Housing’s early dropoff program — one of many safety protocols. Jeff Miller

It’s been an extraordinary year, with so many fast-paced events that, as a quarterly magazine, we’ve struggled to keep up. Beyond the swift pace, the human toll has also been disorienting and challenging. That’s why we’ve turned to a year-in-review photo feature to capture the subtleties and impact of current events more completely than words alone.

The year began, of course, with a Rose Bowl — remember when we thought losing the big game was a tragedy? Then came the pandemic, which sent the majority of students home at spring break to finish the semester remotely, and which left faculty and staff scrambling to put their courses online virtually overnight. However, that paled in comparison to fear for the health of loved ones, the mounting death toll, a feeling of isolation, and the economic suffering as the extended shutdown began to cause job losses and hardship on a scale unseen since the Great Depression.

The Memorial Day police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off a series of Black Lives Matter demonstrations that continue to this day. As some of the protests grew violent, we saw boarded-up storefronts on State Street. Then, as businesses began to reopen, the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha set off another round of demonstrations that resulted in businesses replacing the plywood just as students were returning to campus in late August.

This fall’s students face a college experience unlike any of those who came before them. In mid-August, the Big Ten made a historic decision to cancel the fall football season out of concern for the health of players and staff, and the following month, it announced that a shortened season would begin in October. Students are undergoing regular testing for COVID-19, wearing masks, and observing social distancing. Large parties are verboten, and classes are a mix of online and in-person.

But, despite the many challenges, there are signs of hope. This issue includes news of how UW researchers continue to help find solutions to the pandemic and how campus is coping. It also includes thoughtful comments from two Black UW faculty poets whose work can help us begin to process the racial strife that has typified this year.

In a time of uncertainty, we’re sure of one thing — even a pandemic, accompanied by social unrest, is not enough to quench that legendary Badger spirit.

Published in the Winter 2020 issue

Tags: Campus history, COVID-19 pandemic, Health and medicine

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