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South Coast College History Students Document Coronavirus Crisis Through Their Experiences

For the last three months, we’ve had to make changes in out lives to cope with being in the middle of a pandemic.  We’re in the middle of a major event in history.  How will it be remembered?  Some South Coast college history students have set aside their books to document the coronavirus crisis through their personal experiences, in a project dubbed “The Plague Journals.”

Eric Knutson is a Cal State Channel Islands student taking part in the project.  He was living in the Channel Islands Harbor area, and wrote about how the mostly older people in the area have come together with a sense of community.

Dr. Robin Mitchell is an Assistant Professor of History at Cal State Channel Islands, who created the project.  Mitchell thinks the journal has given her students to talk about the huge changes in their lives

Caila Benitez is a history major taking part in the writing project. She wrote about about a painful event which occurred during her crisis.  Her dog was seriously ill, and had to be put to sleep.  She says writing about it was cathartic.

The project focuses on the pandemic, with the writing completed before the start of the social upheaval and change triggered by the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. 

Mitchell says she’s impressed with what the students in her two classes created.  She says since were still in the middle of the pandemic, is still too soon to be able to put what’s happening in an accurate history complex.  The plan is house the plague’s journalism at the Cal State Channel Islands library. 

But, they won’t be made accessible to the public for five years.  Mitchell says that the time will give people reading them the ability to look at them with more context.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.