I am sitting in my childhood bedroom, fresh off a morning Zoom class call. I haven’t seen campus since early March, when, during my first year at Pacific, I was swiftly whisked away from my new academic home back to my hometown of Oregon City, grounded to a COVID-19 quarantine that has lasted far longer than anyone hoped.
When COVID-19 hit and students left campuses across the country, the outcry for last year’s seniors was huge. They had lost the final few months of their senior year, their graduation ceremony, their final rituals and reflections. It was sad to see, and I felt for them. But now, going into what’s looking to be a full year of this COVID-19 remote learning experience, I feel like this year’s students have it infinitely worse.
Not only am I a senior, but I’m a transfer student as well. And these have both presented their own hardships. I transferred to Pacific last year at Junior standing, having completed two years at a community college. I was excited for the full university experience, to make new friends, to pave new paths, to soak in the independence of living away from home for the very first time. But being an introvert, it takes me a good while to really settle into a new place.
After a semester on campus, I felt like I was finally starting to find my niche. I began to settle, get comfortable, form friendships that I felt would last well past my time at the university. But it was only a month later when everything came to a screeching halt.
For last year’s seniors, they lost their final few months. They lost graduation. And that all sucks. But for me, and any other students in my situation, we lost almost our entire college experience. We had only four months to experience campus life to its fullest. Only four months to really try to experience the university community we chose to be a part of. I had hoped, back in March, that our little remote study adventure would be only temporary, but as the grip of COVID-19 has held on through fall semester, it seems that our entire senior year has gone bust.
I hate to be pessimistic, and I do appreciate how well–at least for me–remote classes seem to be going. But the essence of what the college experience is about has been stripped. The experiences that everyone hopes for out of living on campus, out of attending a university, are no longer existent. And thousands of dollars in tuition, paid with a promise for a strong, intimate learning environment, turned to only a quarter of a year of genuine in-person education.
Last year’s seniors: I feel for you. I know exactly how you were feeling at that moment. But as this continues to stretch on, for each consecutive group, this situation gets worse. So I just ask everyone, please, show this year’s seniors, this year’s transfer students, everyone who is still trudging forward through this painful and unprecedented situation, the same empathy you felt for the class of 2020.
We’d all really appreciate it. — Bren Swogger