Vera Soloview, Class of 2023

After the University closed due to COVID-19, Vera Soloview, Class of 2023, moved back home to Anchorage, Alaska. A rugby player, she stayed in shape by working out at the local high school football field. (Photography by Vera Soloview, Class of 2023)

A Spring Quarter like no other

Living with your parents—or completely alone. Taking classes on Zoom. Trying to make sense of it all. Eight College students tell us what Spring Quarter 2020 was like. 

Wednesday, March 11, was the last normal day of 2020 for the University of Chicago.

The new reality began for me with a 9:24 p.m. text from a friend: “Check the maroon.” On the Maroon’s website was a breaking story: all Spring Quarter classes would be remote.

At 7:50 the next morning, an email from President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee confirmed the University’s decision. By Friday, everyone in my office had been told to work from home indefinitely.

The story list I had prepared for the Summer issue of the Core, focused on in-person Spring Quarter events, was now useless. And the students—while trying to finish their finals—were preparing for a quarter unlike any other period in the University’s history.

What would their Spring Quarter experience possibly be like? Through the Micro-Metcalf Program—a short-term, remote internship program funded by the College and organized by Career Advancement—I was able to find eight students who would tell me. I called the project Document Your Spring Quarter.

In response to weekly prompts, the students produced writing, photographs, artwork, interviews, and more. Anne Pritikin, Class of 2022, wrote a series of poetry-like “instruction pieces” inspired by the work of Yoko Ono. Wren McMillan, Class of 2023, made paintings and drawings. Eli Winter, AB’20, wrote essays and music. Vera Soloview and Michael Han, both Class of 2023, created photo essays and experimental writing based on electronic correspondence.

The pieces here are just a subset of what the students produced. I wanted to preserve their entire body of work, so that future generations could hear the voices of young people from 2020 for themselves. I asked the students to keep two audiences in mind: readers of the Summer/20 Core, and unknown readers of the future. The students have agreed to donate digital copies of their work to the Special Collections Research Center at the Regenstein Library, where they will be available for researchers in the decades or centuries to come.

Instruction Pieces
Anne Pritikin, Class of 2022, spent Spring Quarter living with her family in Mill Valley, California.

To be in a Time of Finals Pandemic
Wren McMillan, Class of 2023, lived alone in a sublet apartment in Hyde Park.

Eli Winter, AB’20, remained in his off-campus apartment.

Early Spread
Sage Rossman, Class of 2023, lived with her parents in Olema, California, a small town about an hour from the Bay Area.

Texts and Photos
Vera Soloview, Class of 2023, spent Spring Quarter with her parents in Anchorage, Alaska. Her brother Vasily Soloview, Class of 2021, remained in Hyde Park.

The Ones Who Stayed
Xavior Lewis, Class of 2023, was one of 125 students who remained on campus.

A New Era
Elijah Smith, Class of 2021, stayed with his family in St. Johns, Florida.

Subject Lines
Michael Han, Class of 2023, lived with his parents in Katy, Texas.