SCU In Quarantine Header Banner

Reflections on a Pandemic Year

Eric Goldman
Law Professor

Despite increasingly ominous news reports, work proceeded normally in January and February 2020. For example, in early February 2020, the law school held a major in-person conference called WIPIP with 80+ attendees. 

Things changed dramatically by early March. On March 9, 2020, I nervously flew to Washington D.C. for a conference presentation. Only about 25% of the conference registrants attended, and attendees felt uncomfortable being in each other’s presence. I was so distraught about the contagion risks that, after flying home March 10, we immediately pulled our kids from in-person school (the schools transitioned to remote learning a few days later).

How the pandemic shutdown has affected me:

Working at Home. It took a few months to adjust to working exclusively at home. I needed better A/V equipment, a faster Internet connection, and a more ergonomic setup, and addressing those issues drained my productivity. Also, my kids and wife don’t respect my workspace boundaries, leading to multiple interruptions throughout the day. I save some commute time, but I have no clear division between work and personal time. As a result, I worked most waking hours for a year without a single day off (until a short vacation in early April 2021). It was exhausting.

Teaching. Transitioning to online teaching was hard. I spent dozens of hours during summer 2020 learning how to teach online, then dozens more hours adapting my class (which I had taught 23x before) for the online format. Actually teaching the class online took 2-3x as much time than an in-person class would have required. While teaching online, I constantly worry that some technology will critically fail mid-class/mid-lecture. Overall, online teaching is time-consuming and exhausting. 

Conference Presentations/Traveling. Pre-pandemic, I gave about 40 talks/year and flew about 2x/month (about 75,000 air miles/year). I haven’t been on a plane since March 10, 2020, which has saved me a lot of travel time. Nevertheless, because I can easily make remote appearances, I’ve done more public talks than ever—30 in the first four months of 2021 (over 2x/week).

Personally. My family has been remarkably privileged during the pandemic. Our house is big enough to accommodate us all, no one got the virus, I have job security, I thrived professionally, and my kids have done well academically. Yet, my family and I have “lost” little things due to the shutdown—such as my daughter’s 8th grade graduation, my son’s tour of prospective colleges, in-person holiday celebrations (Zoom gatherings aren’t the same), and scheduled vacations to Bali, Kenya, Hawaii, and more. Collectively, these losses diminished our lives. Most of all, we miss the in-person interactions that remain so vital to building strong relationships.

Feathered Fortunes

Bloomberg tech reporter Kurt Wagner ’12 returns to campus to discuss his new book on Twitter’s takeover and the humans behind the corporate curtain.

Swing and a Hit

Bringing the professional sports experience to college women golfers is part of the game.

What’s In a Vote?

Turns out: A lot. Santa Clara University students discuss how Gen Z feels about voting ahead of Super Tuesday.

Art History Majors Make History

Art history graduates Lauren Stein ’23, Maggie Walter ’23, and Annika Singh ’23 joined forces to create the first student-led art exhibit at Santa Clara’s de Saisset Museum.