Hampton University Marching Force left without proper seating accommodations at Howard game

Morgan Harris | Staff Writer 

 (Photo Courtesy of Facebook user Thomas L. Jones Jr.)

Dr. Thomas L. Jones Jr., Director of Bands at Hampton University, arrived at Audi Field with The Marching Force expecting a friendly battle with Howard’s band as part of the first annual “Truth and Service Classic.”

To his dismay, it was the complete opposite.

“Many of our students were left standing in the concourse for 20 to 30 minutes, with many being left in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes after performing the halftime show,” Jones said.

Touchdown after touchdown, Hampton racked up points on the scoreboard in a 48-32 victory. But there was no band to sing the celebratory praise at the end of each touchdown. In addition, Jones shared that the team was not provided access to water or ice during the game. 

Howard University was responsible for providing proper seating accommodations to Hampton’s Marching Force as the host school. They assigned Hampton’s band to be seated in a standing-room-only section with a railing that restricted movement for the majority of the band’s auxiliary and instrumental sections, according to Jones.

Howard’s Showtime Marching Band was seated in a section on the opposite side of the stadium, leaving many, such as TV One journalist Roland Martin, with the impression that Hampton’s band was a no-show. He made jabs at Hampton on social media, confusing fans.

He posted a side-by-side picture of an empty section and Howard’s band section.

“Unless the @_hamptonu band is gonna march in as a surprise, there won’t be a halftime battle of the bands. Folks here are greatly disappointed there won’t be a battle with @howard1867. What’s up with that, Hampton?! This is the big game!!!” Martin captioned the photo.

Hampton’s band staff said that they did not know their seating arrangements would be in the standing-room-only area of the stadium.

“Our staff was largely left out of the logistics planning, and several representatives from Howard and their band conducted a walk-through of the facilities prior to the game,” Jones said.

The band had no other option but to seek other seating arrangements.

“Despite our challenges, our Pirate fans were gracious enough to move to a different section to allow our band to be seated in an adequate location,” Jones said.

The band members said the situation was unprofessional, and the issue could have been easily avoided with better communication from both parties.

“It could’ve been better organized, and Howard should take responsibility since they were the hosts,”said Sahara Chapman, a member of Hampton’s Marching Force. “Even if the circumstances had changed, they should’ve notified us so we could’ve been better prepared.” 

To clear the air, Jones penned one final message to spectators.

“The lack of adequate seating set off a chain of events that left us in a challenging situation,” he said. “However, once the seating issue was resolved, we were successfully able to tend to all other matters, thus ensuring a quality game-time experience for our fans during the time that we were there.”

The Hampton University Marching Force will  next appear on the field October 2 at Armstrong Stadium for the Battle for the Bay with Norfolk State University.


Wellness Days: Are They Working for Students?

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash )

In January, SGA announced that they helped implement wellness days at Hampton University, which were days for students to have needed breaks. Students have had two wellness days thus far, and overall, the consensus has been positive.

Some students find the days rather helpful and use them as intended, de-stressing and focusing on their mental health.

“I usually spend my wellness days just relaxing unless I have an assignment due on that day,” said Rayna Wynn, a Computer Science major from Atlanta, GA, “If nothing is due on that Friday, I just decompress and avoid looking at school stuff.”

Many reported that they were glad they finally had a break during the year, especially since the second semester tends to be a lot busier than the first with finals and big projects. 

Some students found them helpful and necessary for getting through the semester, saying that the first semester felt like too much. 

“We just went nonstop last semester. We didn’t get breaks, so they really helped,” said Sydney Broadnax, a Journalism major from Detroit, MI, “I can’t do school nonstop like I did last semester. It just wouldn’t be good for my mental health at all.”

While the idea of wellness days has been praised by some students, others think that some issues have come about that should be addressed. 

The main goal of the wellness days is to give students a much-needed break from school for the sake of their mental health, yet some students have reported receiving homework on the assigned days. They believe that their teachers are not respecting the days for what they are and see the days as just a regular break instead of a way to get rid of some of the stresses that come from school life.

“I think they should let everyone know that wellness days are occurring because some teachers don’t seem to know why they’re happening and still assign assignments for that day, so I feel like they should organize a little better,” said Austin Phillips, a Strategic Communications major from Plainfield, NJ, “Some teachers seem to just treat it like a break. They see it as a day off and think they can just pile on homework due the following day and that is very stressful to the students.”

The newly implemented wellness days are usually held on Fridays. Students report that their Fridays are not their busiest day of the week, and those days are when their homework tends to be due, so they are not getting time to destress because of the homework their teachers have assigned already. 

A possible improvement to this issue is the idea that students could answer a poll and pick what day they want the wellness day to be, collectively as a school. 

“Collectively as a class, let’s decide on when we have a wellness day. Let’s come together and decide what day would be best overall,” said Nathan Abdul-Haqq, a Strategic Communications major from Philadelphia, PA. Students appreciate and like the idea of wellness days, but they do need improvements. Students also want more mental health programs to help them have a better experience at Hampton. 

For the first mental health program put in place by students for students, the wellness days are a great step in the right direction for an overall better mental health experience for the student body during the school year.

The Future is Female: SGA’s Upcoming Big Three

Angela Session | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: Amber Wynne)

As SGA elections at Hampton closed April 9, the results were astonishing.

The SGA President, Vice President, and Representative to the Board of Trustees positions, also known as the ‘Big Three’ on campus for the 2021-2022 school year, are women. Holding positions that were formerly male-dominated, these three women will now serve as the face of the student body at Hampton University. SGA President, Vice President, and Representative to the Board of Trustees are as follows respectively; Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson, Amber Wynne and Zuri Williams.These women will also be looked upon to represent Hampton women, who also make up the majority of the student body. 

With pressure to both be the representatives for all Hampton students and be a woman in a high leadership position, these three women are ready to get the job done for the upcoming school year.

SGA’s newly-elected Representative to the Board of Trustees, Zuri Williams is a sophomore pre-med major from Cincinnati, Ohio. She currently serves as the sophomore class Vice President and held the same position during her freshman year. 

Amber Wynne is a junior health science policy administration major, criminal justice minor from Columbia, Maryland, who goes by the pronouns she/her. Wynne is still in awe about winning the election. 

“To see a ‘Big 3’ where every seat is taken up by a Black woman is monumental. In fact, this may be the first time this has happened at Hampton University as a whole,” Wynne said.

In her speech, she stated that it was about creating a legacy, and she is beyond honored to have been elected to serve as part of this legacy. 

“This election is more than selecting your next SGA representatives, it’s about creating a lasting legacy that extends beyond the one-year term,” she stated.

Sharing how she would use her position to empower women on Hampton’s campus, she stated that she would use her new leadership to try to bring more women to the table.

“My hope is that through my position I can help establish true equity on campus for every Hampton woman,” Wynne said. “More often than not, we do not celebrate each version of the Hampton woman. Whether that is establishing resources or bringing more women to the table, I hope to create an environment where every Hampton woman is loved and supported.”

SGA President-elect Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson is a junior strategic communications major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who goes by the pronouns she/her. Thomspon served as SGA Vice President during the 2020-21 school year. 

Sharing that she has a lot planned for the upcoming year, a few of the first things she plans to do once in office is, “the annual implementation of Wellness Days, restructuring the student grievance policy, and increasing programming and partnerships for marginalized communities, on campus.”

Knowing that the “Big Three” is female-dominated, she hopes that our SGA administration can help shed light on the nuances of women’s leadership. 

“So often, the world puts powerful women in boxes, but I want us to break down those stereotypes and show that the Hampton woman is who you choose to make her, not who she’s told to be,” Thompson said.

SOJU Makes Its Return To Hampton

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

(Picture Credit: QTXI and ONYX XII Class Councils)

In an effort to keep Hampton University’s sacred traditions alive, the sophomore and junior class councils created a week of interactive events known as “SOJU Night Live” to replace the annual and highly anticipated sophomore and junior class ball. Hosted by the Quintessence XI (QTX) and Onyx XII classes, the week of events ran from April 5-9. 

“Black Jeopardy” was the first event held on Monday. Following the usual Jeopardy model of answering questions in different categories, participants were tested on their knowledge of African American culture. The event was a competition between the QTX and Onyx XII classes.  

“I wish we were having the ball, but at least we’re having something,” said Cheri Manning, a third-year psychology major from Rochester, New York. 

On Tuesday, April 6, a speed dating event took place called “Late Night Date Night.” This event was for students looking to create new relationships or friendships. This event mimicked the speed dating layout by having students talk to other students within a certain time limit. 

On day three of “SOJU Night Live” week, the QTX and Onyx class held a fundraising competition for the Peninsula Food Bank. Titled “Battle of the Band$: Onyx vs. Quintessence,” the competition was held through Instagram and utilized Bingo as a way to raise funds. All of the proceeds were donated to the Peninsula Food Bank. 

The next night consisted of a “Black Men Don’t Cheat Panel,” in which many Hampton students participated in a discussion on how faithful Black men are in relationships. Myana Mabry and Lanece Carpenter interviewed six Hampton men about relationships and what it means to be faithful. This event was held on Instagram Live and many interested Hamptonians tuned in to see who would be admitted to the “Faithful Black Men’s Association.”

“Interviewing for the ‘Black Men Don’t Cheat’ event for SoJu was so much fun. The audience was engaged, and the men on the panel were polite, well-versed and very patient with the questions,” Lanece Carpenter, a second-year Sports Management major on the pre-law-track from San Antonio, Texas.  “The panel was enlightening and opened up a lot of conversations about dating and relationships. Even though some of the men, unfortunately, did not make it into the ‘Faithful Black Men’s Association,’ we still have faith in them.” 

Carpenter also says she hopes to see a “Black Women Don’t Cheat” event in the future. 

The last “SOJU Night Live ” event was hosted on Instagram Live and participants talked about all things Hampton. Hosted by Drake Tucker and Tenel Robison, topics included building the campus environment for the 2021-2022 academic school year, suggestions for potential events and class engagement activities. During the live, students also talked about having more class events since they have not been on campus in over a year. 

As the semester comes to a close, many students of the Quintessence and Onyx classes are excited to return in the fall in person to continue all of the traditions Hampton hosts like SOJU, but next time with the tuxes and dresses.

Hampton’s Student Recruitment Team Holds Their Annual Intake Week

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Photo byHampton University Student Recruitment Team

From March 25-30, the Hampton University Student Recruitment Team (SRT) held their intake week virtually with the fresh, inviting theme of “Bridgerton,” a popular Netflix show that was recently released and quickly took social media by storm. The week started with a teaser video announcing the commencement of the week and the subject for each proceeding event. 

“Whoever edited that video did an outstanding job because I thought I was seeing an ad for the actual show,” said Briana Previlon, a third-year political science major from Boston, Massachusetts. 

SRTis a student organization that assists with the recruitment of high school students from the Hampton Roads area and around the country. The organization hosts annual events such as Highschool Day, Open House and Honors Visitation weekend, which allows prospective students to get a glimpse of Hampton University. The Student Recruitment Team also gives tours throughout the year to students and families interested in seeing the campus and learning more about what programs Hampton has to offer. 

With much buzz created around the Bridgerton themed promotional video, many Hampton Students were revved up to attend the Student Recruitment Team’s events. 

“I saw the flyers all down my timeline, plus I love the show Bridgerton,” said Cheri Manning, a third-year psychology major from Rochester, New York. “I was definitely excited after seeing the theme.” 

The first event held was the “SR Tea Party” which was a meeting for all students interested in getting more information on SRT and how to apply for membership. Many fresh Hampton faces joined the zoom call, seeming excited and dressed to impress in business professional attire. 

The subsequent events took place the following week on Monday, March 29, with their A Family Affair, interactive game night. This event was for current SRT members and students interested in joining SRT to bond through different games and activities. 

On Tuesday, March 30, SRT held an event titled The Royal Ball. The event included a speed dating activity designed for prospective members to get to know each of the SRT team members personally. 

SRT developed a system that allows current team members to connect to current high school students by text message and email. Each member was assigned a mentee who could ask them any questions about attending Hampton, applying, scholarships, etc. This new initiative is called Pirate Talks. This allowed many SRT members to stay involved in the recruitment process while being virtual. 

“The Student Recruitment Team to me is a welcoming and accepting family organization that helps prospective students find that one-of-a-kind college experience,” said Raven Harper, a third-year journalism major, marketing minor from Houston, Texas. “Whether that’s at Hampton or not, we get to give back to the community by helping them decide what’s best for them and what to look for in a college/university; them coming to Hampton is the bonus.” 

Hampton University SGA Elections: The Race Begins for Fall 2021

 Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

March 23 marked the beginning of Hampton University’s annual SGA Elections. Coordinated by Hampton University’s Office of  Student Activities in conjunction with the Student Government Association (SGA), candidates from across the university filled in their applications to run for class and SGA office positions. 

This year, SGA positions such as SGA President, SGA Vice-President and Representative to the Board of Trustees are available to current candidates. In addition to SGA positions, student leadership positions are also available for the rising senior, junior and sophomore classes. 

According to the Assistant Director of Student Activities, Kristina Janes, the voting period will officially begin on Friday, April 9,  from 9 AM Eastern Time to 4 PM Eastern Time.  During this window, students can vote for leadership positions within SGA, as well as for whom they want for leadership positions within their respective class. Before the voting window opens up, Hampton students will receive an email with instructions on how to vote via a Blackboard link. This link is also to be distributed through both the Student Activities and SGA Instagram accounts.

Due to the nature of remote learning, in-person campaigns and the spreading of fliers throughout the school is impossible, so how can one still effectively campaign and spread their name throughout the school?

According to Janes, candidates can post fliers on their respective social media accounts, which can only be reposted by members of their campaign team, which is submitted along with their application. These posts can be fliers but can also be videos or other forms of media. In addition to social media posts, candidates are also able to hold up to one social campaign event via remote meeting mediums such as Instagram Live or Zoom. However, to hold these events officially, candidates must inform HU Student Activities before making the event public. This allows a Hampton University official to attend the event and ensure that the proceedings are held to a standard and that the campaign remains fair. 

“I suggest creating an appealing and concise flyer that talks about why you’re running, what your vision and goals are, and when voting is,” says Hampton University Student Senator Gabriel Lewis. 

When asked how to effectively campaign during a period in which in-person campaign tactics cannot be utilized, Lewis was quick to offer his suggestions.

“Have a group of friends as a part of your campaign, willing to spread your flyers and promotional material and ensure your name gets out there. Also, use your one campaign event towards the end of the campaign period to make sure voters know your name and face and get the chance to meet you before the voting period so that you are still fresh on their minds on Election Day. Also, make sure you get everything approved by Hampton University, and that you follow up with them to ensure your material gets approved quickly,” said Lewis. 

With April 9 just over the horizon, there is still time for candidates to spread their name and make sure that they are in the minds of every voter come Election Day.  As for voters, make sure you get out there and vote for your chosen candidate!

Cymmone Yancey, CEO of C.N.D.Y Aesthetics, on Being a Student Entrepreneur

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

Photo by Martine Yancy

Cymmone Yancey is a student entrepreneur who has experienced a lot of success with her brand, C.N.D.Y Aesthetics. On her Instagram, she has amassed over 1,000 followers and rose to prominence despite the pandemic. In this Q&A, Yancy discusses how she started her business and grown her brand. 

NP: How did you come about starting your business, C.N.D.Y Aesthetics?

CY: I guess it’s unconventional in a way. I’ve always had an affinity for business and finance and I wanted to find a way to create a business. One, to gain experience so that I could continue to establish a greater business later on in life, and two, as a means to kind of bring self-fulfillment. Every day is kind of boring, and don’t get me wrong I love my major, but having something that I can call mine that brings happiness to other people in the same way it brings happiness to me is different. Being able to start something like that is something I really wanted to do.

NP: What made you want to go into the beauty industry?

CY: You’ll note in my store that there’s not a wide range of beauty products. We’re going to expand our market soon, but I focused my interests on the areas of beauty I was truly interested in, so our biggest market right now is lipgloss and lashes. Anyone that knows me knows I love lip gloss. I may not be a ‘super get-up every day slap makeup on my face and hit the town’ kind of person, but you’ll rarely find me going out the house without a balm lip gloss on.

NP: So you’ve always had an affinity for beauty products?

CY: Yeah, I have. There’s a sort of humbleness that comes with beauty products. You are beautiful, so you don’t need the products, but it’s something you like, something you enjoy. It’s something you want to incorporate into your daily routine. I’m not going to sell anything I wouldn’t wear myself. Having a source for that is something I find important, especially for our demographic and age group.

NP: Do you make any of your products? If not, do you plan to?

CY: All of the products currently in my store are sourced from individual providers. I am working on lip-gloss products of my own. I’m not going to put them on the market until I feel they’re the best they can be, and right now I don’t feel that they are.

NP: Do you feel like your business has been successful? Do you feel like it needs improvement?

CY: I feel like anyone who says their business doesn’t require improvement is full of it. I honestly have a lot of room for growth. It picked up during the pandemic. I didn’t start funneling a lot of resources into my website until January. I do want to improve, but as of right now, I’ve had over 20 sales in the last two months, all of which were substantial orders, so I think I’m doing pretty good. 

NP: How do you advertise off-campus?

CY: One of the biggest things I like to do is experiment with marketing. So what I’ve found is if you build your social media platform in the right way. Your business will thrive without outside network influence, and that’s what I wanted to establish first and then bring that influence in. I feel as though currently, I’ve established my market. I have a good feel for the type of audience I’ve been attracting, and all of my customers have been people I do not know. They have solely come to my page through the marketing campaigns I’ve put out there. You don’t need to spend money on a photographer for those. I’ve taken pictures with my phone. The cutouts I’ve done with basic software on my computer. I plug in a picture, hit a button, and it’s done. That way I’m not wasting money on elaborate marketing campaigns.

NP: Do you have any general business tips you could give to fellow students?

CY: I think the number one thing is patience. There are a lot of people who say they want to start a new business because they want money, but they don’t want to work for it which is completely the wrong mentality. I’m a full-time student. I have a part-time job as a software engineer for Home Depot. There’s no need for me to even own a business. My career is substantial, so the money isn’t what I’m after. I’m after the experience. 

Follow C.N.D.Y Aesthetics @cndy.aesthetics on Instagram to catch deals and see what Cymmone has in her store next. Visit her website.

SGA Town Hall: Visions of Graduation and a Safe Return in Fall 2021

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Picture Credit: Image of the Hampton University Student Center, where Town Hall is usually held every year. Image can be found on Hampton University’s website here

Hampton University’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual town hall meeting in late February. The event served as a forum for students to bring their concerns directly to administration. However this year, things were a little different. 

 To account for the ongoing pandemic, SGA’s town hall was held virtually through Zoom. Students submitted their concerns via an online submission platform and SGA asked the questions to members of the Hampton University administration, including but not limited to; President Dr. William R. Harvey, Dr. Barbara Inman, Dr. Karen Ward and other members of the Hampton University administration. 

Hosted by Austin Sams, SGA’s 75th President, the town hall presented an opportunity for the administration to reveal their plans for Hampton’s future. 

Most notably, Dr. Barbara Inman revealed that in-person instruction will be available beginning during both the upcoming summer 2021 and fall 2021 semesters, Hampton’s first on-campus semesters since the Spring of 2020. Factoring in lingering health concerns with COVID-19, it is required of Hampton students (unless medically contraindicated or in the case of religious exemption) to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus and uploading documentation of such. 

Included in this plan for on-campus living, the administration mentioned that they intend to implement a system towards maintaining fifty percent occupancy in classrooms. In this plan, students of a said classroom will be split into alternating days of in-person instruction and remote instruction within their dorms, creating a cycle in which; there is always one half of class in the classroom and the other half operating remotely. 

In addition to classroom operation changes, Hampton is planning on implementing living changes by reducing density in residence halls. Currently, it has been established that both single and double occupancy rooms will be made available for the Fall 2021 Semester. 

Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, also mentioned the procedural updates within the Health Center, with the inclusion of COVID testing that would be able to provide results “within 24 to 48 hours,” thus allowing for swift testing on campus to ensure maximum safety. 

With all the procedural changes that Hampton University is implementing for the return of the student body, the question remains to be asked: what of the Spring 2021 graduates?

As announced by the Hampton administration, the University intends to hold virtual graduation not only for Spring 2021 graduates but Spring 2020 graduates as well, given that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a proper Spring 2020 graduation from occurring. 

While details regarding the specifics of the virtual ceremony have yet to be revealed, the decision has been met with quite a bit of disappointment from graduating seniors. 

“I feel saddened by the news of the virtual graduation. This is not at all what I imagined the end of my HU experience would be like. However, I am thankful that I’ll be with my family. I know that they will make the experience special even though it is virtual,” says Cassie Herring, a senior english major from Woodbridge, Virginia. 

As more information is released regarding graduation, the student body can only hope that the virtual ceremony manages to commemorate the achievement memorably, to make up for the fact that it is not in person. 

One thing remains clear nonetheless, Hampton University is making the strides to return to a new normal.

Hampton Alumna, Ariana Greene selected as TRESemme Future Stylish Fund Recipient

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Picture Credit: Ariana Greene

Last month, TRESemmé, an American hair care brand, awarded Hampton University’s own Ariana Greene a $10,000 scholarship to attend cosmetology school. Ariana Crofton, a recent 2020 HU graduate, currently owns her own business, Ariana’s Canvas, where she creates a myriad of unique hairstyles such as; box braids, faux locs and feed-in braids.

 The TRESemmé Future Stylish Fund scholarship Greene received was tailored specifically for Black women to break the systematic barriers surrounding African American women and their hair in the beauty industry. 

“There are many barriers that exist for future Black female stylists, but things are changing because those tough conversations are being had,” said TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund selection committee member Ursula Stephen in an interview with Essence. “And great opportunities like the TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund are helping to encourage some much-needed change.”

Before winning, Greene mentioned that she experienced a season of no’s. Then one of her peers from Hampton sent her the  TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund application during the summer of 2020. Crofton took a leap of faith and applied. Crofton even took out a loan for cosmetology school but soon canceled it once she got the news that she won the scholarship.

“This experience was perfectly tailored for me,” said Grenne. 

Greene started her hair journey as a child, doing her Bratz Doll’s hair, eventually learning how to do her own. While growing up, her hair journey was not easy due to the many of the bad experiences she had in hair salons. She wanted to change the reputation braiders have in the beauty industry by offering a therapeutic space for Black women to get their hair done, not only on Hampton’s campus but also in the DMV region where she resides. 

“I started on accident by doing box braids for my bigs,” Greene said. 

Once she did her “big’s” hair, word spread fast, and she soon became Hampton’s go-to hairstylist. 

“It didn’t feel like I was the go-to hairstylist, but people created their own hype, and that helped,” she explained. 

With her fast-growing business and popularity on campus, Greene realized that doing hair and managing schoolwork can be difficult. Along with balancing Ariana’s Canvas and school, she realized she had to set boundaries with friends and family. 

“I didn’t have time for fun and often, could only work and go to class,” she shared. 

Although she lost a lot of free time, Greene gained many meaningful relationships from doing hair on campus. Through her business, she also learned how to pay taxes and budget. Regardless of having a few struggles, she realized she couldn’t focus on the approval of other people.

Greene advises everyone who is looking to start their own business to not over plan. She shared that she started her business in 2014 on YouTube as a DIY art channel. Later on, she began Ariana’s Canvas due to the need for Black braiders on campus who understand how to take care of natural hair. 

She also advises future business owners to start a business relating to their passions and look to their friend group for support.

“If they’re good friends, they’ll support you, but build your own community,’ she advises.  

Greene is currently attending cosmetology school at Aspen Beauty School and is working on becoming more creative with her work. She plans to one day bridge the gap between companies and campus stylists, as well as grow her hair business.

“I want to go international and talk to other aspiring stylists,” Greene shared. 

Ariana Greene is currently located in the DMV, and anybody interested in booking an appointment can do so through the link located in her Instagram bio @arianascanvas. To learn more about her TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund opportunity, follow Ariana on Instagram @anaira_99.

Picture Credit: Ariana Crofton

Hampton University to Hold In-Person Instruction for the Fall 2021 Semester

Raven Harper

Picture Credit: (Mr.Pirate picture: Eva Davis, students outside: Christian Montgomery)

After many months of anticipation and remote learning, on Feb. 25, Hampton University announced that they will offer in-person instruction and housing for the 2021 Summer and Fall semesters, but with a few conditions. 

Dr. Barbara Inman, Vice President of Administrative Services and Infectious Disease and Prevention Working group chair, sent out an email to the entire Hampton student body on March 8 with the news. In the letter, she stated that in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and the Virginia Department of Health, students will be able to return to campus in the Summer and Fall, showing valid proof and documentation of their vaccinations.

“Students will be required to be fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to campus unless medically contraindicated or there is a religious exemption,” the email read.

The Summer semester will also include Hampton’s Pre-College Program for the incoming freshman class. 

This announcement came a couple of weeks after a previous email requesting an advance tuition payment for the 2021-2022 academic school year was sent out, which had many students questioning if Hampton’s administration was planning for students to return in the fall.

To gain further information regarding this announcement, I sat down with Dr. Inman to discuss the questions and concerns many students had after digesting the email. 

Regarding Hampton’s rather early decision to return, Dr. Inman explained that the availability of the vaccine played a major role in the administration’s decision, as well as the readiness for the university and students to get back to campus.

News of the university’s plans was met with a lot of feedback and responses from current students and the Hampton community.

For current freshmen who spent what was supposed to be their first and best year in college at home, many felt solace towards the news. Felipe Gonzalez, a Music Education and Voice major from Long Island, New York, was one of them.

“Being Mister Freshman, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a lot of my class, and we all have already missed out on so many milestones such as; high school graduation, prom, and freshman year,” he shared. “I can say for most of us that transitioning back to campus is something we all need right now.” 

Gonzalez and his friends, like other freshmen in the class of 2024, have been creating and maintaining their friendships solely online for a year and are excited to create experiences together in-person during the fall. 

Current juniors who will be returning next fall as the senior class are rather grateful to be able to finish their final year at Hampton back on campus.

“Honestly, it’s a blessing to be able to have a senior year. I know we’ve all dealt with a lot in the past year, so I think going back and being able to get back to ‘normal’ will be a good thing for us,” Kayla Jenkins, a Junior Psychology Pre-Med major, Spanish minor from Atlanta, Georgia shared.

“All of our programming and decisions are going to be guided by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health as well as executive orders issued from the governor,” Inman said. “There will be some limitations on the number of people who will be able to congregate at social activities, but we are going to do our best to provide students with a quality, in-person experience.”

As the administration works on rolling out more details, one thing they are aware of is that for the graduating class of 2021, graduation will be held.

In fact, they will be hosting graduation for the 2021 class as well as 2020 graduates who, unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, did not get to have one. However, with the news of the return for the rest of the student body, some graduating seniors were upset their graduation will still be held virtually. 

“Of course, the news was a bit disheartening. I would love to interact with my classmates one more time, but I’ve chosen to accept it and move past it. I just hope that the virtual graduation will still be of quality,”  said Eva Davis, a graduating senior Cellular and Molecular Biology major from Fayetteville, North Carolina.

As students await more information regarding their return, the Hampton Administration says students can expect more detailed information and specifics rolled out well before the 2021-2022 Fall semester begins.

“We believe we have a reopening plan that we allow safe and responsible in-person instruction and housing for our students,” Inman shared.