The COVID-19 pandemic has become an international crisis that has significantly altered every facet of my life. As a student leader, it has also been the most difficult thing I have dealt with during my tenure. The pandemic hit like a flash flood—one day we were going about business as normal and the next we found out that the rest of the semester would be held online as a precaution. Students were in panic, worried about how the pandemic would affect their jobs, research, graduate school applications, finances, housing, and so much more. Our university handled the crisis about as well as one could, providing constant updates and information to students, and hearing student concerns brought to them via SGA.
It was important to me that students would not be negatively impacted by the altered class schedule, first and foremost, and we advocated that the university institute a pass/fail option for all classes due to the crisis. Thankfully, this was enacted which helped ease students’ minds, at least about their academics. However, this has been an especially trying experience for students who were forced to move back home from on campus housing on extremely short notice. The transition has been hard on everyone and every day feels like a new learning experience as we all try to overcome the obstacles. Moving classes fully online has been difficult; as a neuroscience major, most of my classes have an active learning or lab component which has been difficult to replicate in an online setting. However, my professors have done a great job of getting creative and giving us valuable online instruction.
As we continue to advocate for students to be given breaks when applying to graduate school and flexibility for summer semester, we have been in constant communication with our administration to ensure our concerns are being heard. While it may seem like there is no end in sight to this crisis, I am encouraged by the displays of compassion exhibited by so many in my community. From professors calling to check up on individual students to companies offering free Wi-Fi services for students who may not have it at home, this crisis has taught me a powerful lesson about human willpower and perseverance. While the going may be tough now, I am confident that we can and will overcome this crisis together as a university, nation, and world.