The Year in Photos at Tufts 2020
It all started off so normally. Remember when a photo of a large crowd wouldn’t cause you to bat an eyelash? As I’ve begun to look back at the last year of images, suddenly the mundane is eye-catching.
A group of actors simply gathered together for a group photo on set of Sense and Sensibility. Students stood shoulder-to-shoulder to watch as visiting artist Lina Puerta led a papermaking workshop at SMFA. The women’s basketball team packed Cousens Gym as they steamrolled their way to the NCAA Division III national tournament.
When I photographed graduating medical school students Sebastian Hernandez, M20, and Christina Callas, M20, the couple’s biggest worry was whether or not they would match in the same city for their residencies during the upcoming Match Day. Little did they, or any of us, suspect that life as we knew it would change dramatically. In a matter of days, the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic would change it all.
It All Closes Down
On March 16, the day the university officially shut down, I went out on the Medford/Somerville campus to survey the scene. I saw students peering into the windows of Cabot Hall as the doors to the Hall of Flags were locked. A couple of remaining students were packing their cars to move home. As I greeted them to make some photos, we were notably wary and apprehensive; wanting to connect and needing to stay apart.
All of our campuses felt extraordinarily empty as people stayed home. It was bittersweet to watch the flowers bloom without our community, neighbors and groups of prospective students present to take them in.
To ease my own sense of monotony, I began to make walks just to look for the warmth and the color. The sight of the cannon, painted for the Class of 2020, held a bright hope in its message “We’ll Meet Again.”
Life Marches On
The summer was a prelude to the activity that was to come with innovations in operations at the Foster Hospital at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the temporary use of Carmichael Hall’s facilities by FoodLink to distribute donations from local grocery stores and restaurants.
The university was also making preparations for the fall with the installations of the “mods” on the tennis courts and the transformation of major university facilities to allow for an in-person residential academic experience.
Return to Campus
There was this tremendous energy and a palpable feeling of relief as students began to arrive to take their COVID-19 tests, pick up their IDs and move in to their residence halls. They and their families were overwhelmingly enthusiastic and grateful to start the fall semester. I took Victoria Osborne’s personalized Idaho license plate as a great note to usher in the new semester “EUROK”. “Definitely”, I said to myself, “and much better now that you all are here.”
Academic life was clearly different—yet somehow familiar—as we started the first day of classes, and a bit later when students returned to the studios at the SMFA. The Adirondack chairs helped people gather outdoors and bond. Athletics teams hosted practices outside and everybody seemed to try to make the best of classes and meetings on Zoom.
The election figured prominently in campus life with Tufts Votes and students watching the election from their residence halls. Campus life kept going, and I’m glad to say that I was here to witness these interesting times.
Alonso Nichols can be reached at email@example.com.