Opinion | Keeping Up With the Columnists: Vignettes from Zoom University

You know those cute first day of school pictures that parents always take? It’s a photo of their kid with a backpack, holding up some sort of sign that indicates what grade they’re entering. Well, we had our first day of Zoom University — the video chat platform that most lectures and seminars use since moving online — last Monday. In lieu of a photo, which would likely just be all of us scowling on a MacBook screen, here are a few snapshots of what our first week looked like.

Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor

In the writing class I’m the UTA for, my professor and I couldn’t get the Zoom link out to the students. The email was sent twice, and nobody received it. After getting frantic messages from about 20 of the students in the class who were trying to access a link to the meeting, we realized that the email link was sent out to last semester’s students — twice. We only came to this conclusion when an absolutely confused former student joined the meeting. 

Josh Beylinson, Staff Columnist

Suddenly putting millions of students on Zoom has produced some of the funniest memes and videos of this year. On Monday, just one day into Zoom University, my friends sent me a number of videos of students from all over America causing complete mayhem. 

In the best one, a student who is unaware his camera is on stands from his chair and unintentionally shows his dick to every single person in his class, thinking his camera was off. He walks around the room for a solid 10 seconds while the professor tries to awkwardly defuse the scenario. I was left stunned after watching. Even if the student in question thought his video wasn’t on, why was he naked during their class? Was it on purpose? How did he not hear everyone yelling in shock as soon as he stood up? The world will never know. Just please put clothes on before you go on Zoom.

Alex Dolinger, Staff Columnist

Picture this — you’re on Zoom. You’re listening to your classmates give hot takes about the course material, but not nearly hot enough to keep you interested. Your spirits are low, because this is yet another reminder that your school year was cut short but you still have to look at Bryan from stats class. It’s pretty bleak. You just want to tape over your webcam and call it a day, when suddenly the most beautiful sight in the world appears in the corner of your gallery view — a fluffy little puppy.

I’m sure you have experienced this at least once so far at Zoom University, and you know how magical it is. Pets making appearances on Zoom, however brief, are the brightest stars in my quarantine sky and I surely would not be doing so well in my classes without them. This brings me to a call to action — if you have a lovely furry animal in your home, be it a dog, a cat or a rodent of some kind, let it sit on your lap during class. It’s the least you can do in these troubling times.

Paige Lawler, Assistant Opinions Editor

My first class held via Zoom was amazing. Fantastic. Revolutionary, even. I spent the first minute and a half staring at a blank screen with my professor’s first and last name on it, listening to him talk on the phone with who I presume was IT as he attempted to figure out how on Earth Zoom even worked. 

Once he managed to enable video, the rest of my classmates and I were met with only his eyes and forehead — apparently he’d angled his computer away from him so that when the camera turned on, the resulting image was reminiscent of the egg selfies I often send my friends on snapchat. You know, the ones where you lean over your phone screen so that your friends can see only your eyes, eyebrows and forehead, maybe your nose depending on the day. 

Anyway, after my professor adjusted the camera, everything was fine and class proceeded as usual — at least, as usual as anything can be these days. 

Devi Ruia, Senior Staff Columnist 

According to several TikToks and tweets that I’ve seen the past week or so, students are using Zoom University as an opportunity to “shoot their shot” and slide into the DMs — or in this case Zoom private messages — of their fellow students. On one hand it makes sense. Students face a lower risk when you can just turn off your camera to avoid seeing someone who rejected you for the next six months. 

Honestly though, I find it absolutely wild — and not just because no one slid into my Zoom messages the first week of classes. I just find it insane that even in the midst of a global pandemic people are trying to shoot their shots using ZOOM with people they won’t see in person until late August? I mean I understand that we’re all bored, but damn, read a book or something — unless you’re cute and considering shooting your shot with me. In that case, my Zoom messages are open. 

Julia Kreutzer, Senior Staff Columnist

Many of my professors and peers are using virtual backgrounds, attempting to conceal the fact that they are attending lectures in pajamas, wrapped in the Spiderman comforter that still adorns their childhood bed. I’m not as tech savvy and thus have no way to hide that I am sitting in my basement, in a room that was once an office but has now been transformed into a storage space. In addition to getting a view of my over-rested face, now full of breakouts — apparently using a face mask multiple times a day, every day for several weeks is bad for your skin — my classmates get a glimpse into the Kreutzer family’s overflowing storage closet. 

I’m framed perfectly between a rack of jackets that have become suddenly useless, considering none of us have left the house in approximately 11 days, seven hours and 23 minutes, and a fake Christmas tree. In one class last Thursday, my sister’s cat began climbing the tree. I had to pause my video and remove said cat from my new lecture hall. Every class, I spend less time paying attention to the lecture than I do internally preparing a small tangent explaining why I am Feliz Navidad-ing an Introduction to Fiction course. While the tree has no decorations, I’m currently debating putting back up all of the ornaments and lights. I’m pretending it’s like a personalized nationality room — the Montgomery County room. Perhaps I will hold a socially distant naming celebration.