Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Peace and Conflict Studies

First Advisor

Julie Searcy


With the abrupt closing of colleges across the United States in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent reopening in the fall of 2020, students in higher education were among some of the most affected group of individuals. In this ethnographic study, data was collected and analyzed based on student experience with COVID-19 at Butler University. The study aims to answer the research questions: How are students at a small midwestern university experiencing COVID-19? What impact are the university’s mitigation efforts having on students? How do students understand and describe University public health measures? Participant observation, semi-structured interviews and online surveys were used to further investigate this question. The pandemic was found to have contributed to social changes characterized by isolation and stress and due to a heightened norm on campus. Students experienced university communication and protocols as confusing and unclear that fueled uncertainty among the Butler community. University COVD-19 protocols, although some effective, added to the perception of blaming and action of punishment on Butler’s campus.

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