Dear Harvard College Students,
As we head into the winter break, I am trying to find the words to capture all that we have been through and witnessed together over the last year, yet it is hard to find just the right ones. Experiences that seemed so routine back in January and February – sharing meals in the homes of friends and loved ones, sitting together in a theater or sporting event, being in a physical classroom with your peers and faculty – now feel like memories from another lifetime. I am hopeful that these cherished routines and countless others will return one day soon, yet it is hard not to feel their absence, especially at this time of year.
For me, the winter holidays are a time to pause and reflect, something there has been precious little time for since the start of the pandemic. I am especially mindful that whatever successes, failures, hardships, or opportunities lie ahead for us, the year 2020 will continue to be remembered and studied for centuries. Someday, a group of students will be sitting in one of our dining halls, or in a quiet corner of Widener Library, reading about the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, a year that will be ancient history to them. They will learn about the resilient students who quickly moved off campus when it became clear that the virus could not be held off any longer; the students who shifted to remote learning at a pace that previously seemed unthinkable; and the students who came to campus in the fall of 2020 facing restrictions that I hope will seem unimaginable to them.
Amidst the pain, sorrow, and moral reckoning we face as a society, I continue to draw inspiration from how you have adapted to our new reality to support our community's health and well-being. The power that you hold to have a positive impact on the world is limitless, and it is the reason I have such hope for 2021 and for the future. I wish you a safe, healthy, and relaxing winter break, and I look forward to continuing our journey together in the spring.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College