By Christian McCarville
When news first broke about the emerging and highly contagious virus classified as COVID-19, many were alarmed. However, not many predicted the rapid rate at which the virus would personally impact people all over the world. Due to the ease with which it is transmitted from person to person, the virus has forced many of us to adapt and change many aspects of our lives.
The world of education was heavily impacted, as it was considered a high risk for students to attend classes and interact with other students. Classes were expected to be taught remotely and professors sought online alternatives to avoid the person-to-person interactions that could potentially promote the spread of COVID-19. This was devastating news for many college seniors who were completing the semester and enjoying their final moments as students.
Although it is a small price to pay for safety, seniors at Rider have lost a lot. They have missed out on many opportunities, both socially and academically. Senior digital marketing major Rose Eddy commented on how COVID-19 has affected her relationships with friends and organizations on campus.
“I am blessed to have incredibly close relationships with my two Greek chapters on campus, Theta Chi and Zeta Tau Alpha. Due to this unfortunate situation, I lost a lot of late nights and fun memories with precious friends during my last year of college,” said Eddy.
Senior class president and political science major Charles Palmer explained the emotions he felt upon first hearing the heartbreaking news.
“Four emotions surfaced through my head when I found out I would have to finish my senior year online,” said Palmer. “Fear, sadness, nervousness and shock. I cite these four emotions because I would have never guessed that the four years I have spent at Rider would end like this.”
Many other seniors shared the emotions that Palmer described. It is difficult to cope with the fact that seniors will not experience the proper finale they had expected coming into the semester.
“When the announcement came out regarding the remainder of the semester, my heart sank,” said senior elementary education major Michael DeLorenzo. “There were so many events during my final semester at Rider which I was looking forward to, such as Rider Rock Fest, [Eggcellent] Egg Hunt and Senior Week. The spring semester is always an exciting time on campus as the campus becomes alive after a long winter.”
While learning can go remote, the many pre-planned campus events cannot be replaced by any means of the internet. The majority of these events had no choice but to be canceled, including Senior Week which is an annual series of events planned for seniors to celebrate their last days at Rider.
“As the president of the class of 2020, the main project that I have been working on since the fall of 2019 has been Senior Week,” said Palmer. “Countless meetings, preparation and time were put into place to make sure it would be an unforgettable week. To get all of that taken away from you in a blink-of-an-eye hurt, but is also understandable.”
Senior Week’s cancellation deprived many students of their final moments as undergraduates. However, Palmer and the cabinet for the class of 2020 are ready to act if an opportunity to hold the events at a later time arises.
“Currently, we are working on maybe postponing Senior Week. However, that is dependent upon how long COVID-19 lasts. The class of 2020 has faced challenges before, however, myself alongside my cabinet are working to make sure we can still incorporate the end of the year events at a later date,” said Palmer.
Additionally, commencement is currently postponed and further details are contingent on the status of COVID-19 toward the end of the semester.
Remote instruction poses another obstacle to seniors, as some aspects of classes cannot be replicated online. This includes labs, fieldwork and internships that may be required for some seniors’ plans following college.
“As a business major, I am lucky enough for many of my courses to be able to be efficiently held online, but I am very worried about other students, such as those studying science-related subjects and musical theater. With that said, I have found that many of my classes are much more difficult to complete online with a heavier workload through remote instruction,” said senior accounting major Christina Czuczuk.
Remote learning is not ideal for most students, especially seniors taking essential courses. However, it is evident that seniors largely agree with the decision and understand the complications that make this method of learning necessary.
“I absolutely agree with the decision to go remote,” said Eddy. “Even if COVID-19 doesn’t affect your life directly, keeping the university open and thereby forcing others to come to campus and/or class to continue their education puts a lot of people at risk, especially those with older members living in their household.”
During this strange time of unprecedented cancellations due to the dangers of COVID-19, it is best for all students to remain positive in order to overcome these new challenges. Creativity and the use of online alternatives will assist these seniors in making the best of the unfortunate situation.
“As we reflect on our time here at Rider, there is one thing that is evident. There is a sense of community and belonging,” said Palmer. “That is exactly what I believe will help seniors to get the most out of their last semester here at Rider. COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge for the class of 2020, however, it will just require us to be innovative and think outside of the box.”