Alumni Perspective: Coronavirus cuts college short

Packing+up+to+leave+campus

Photo by Lauren Sullivan

Packing up to leave campus

Lauren Sullivan, R3 Editor-in-Chief

When I moved into Rutgers University last August, I never expected to receive an email halfway through the second semester telling me to move out because of a global pandemic. However, this is the reality that I, and many other college students across the country, are facing as universities are forced to close their doors to slow the spread of Coronavirus. 

It all began on March 10 when I received an email from the President of Rutgers University explaining that after Spring Break, classes would be online for two weeks in order to combat Coronavirus. Although disappointing, I packed up any essentials and headed home.

On March 15, I received an email that a professor had tested positive for Coronavirus, making him the first confirmed case on campus. Like many others, I was worried about how many more cases would be uncovered within the following days and weeks.

Then the inevitable occurred on March 17: all classes would be online for the rest of the semester. In addition, all activities, sports and even commencement were canceled. 

There are a plethora of emotions that come along with being told that your freshman year of college is more or less over. At first, I worried about all of the germs I had been exposed to on campus. 

In the last couple of days I had been in multiple classrooms, dining halls and the campus gym– all of which are breeding grounds for illness. Then I counted the number of times I had been packed like a sardine on those infamous Rutgers buses and mulled over the fact that I shared a bathroom with all of the girls on my floor. 

The thought of all of this made me want to wash my hands for 30 minutes straight and never touch my face again.

I became sad about all the activities I wouldn’t get to do during my first year of college. There would be no sitting outside during the warm Spring weather, no club softball nationals in Georgia, and no decorating my dorm room for my roommate’s birthday.

I’m not going to lie– I was angry at the world for taking away my freshman year. But, I came to realize that closing Rutgers is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the entire Rutgers community, which according to rutgers.edu includes 51,200 undergraduates and over 14,900 full and part-time staff members. 

Closing the school most certainly protects me, but more importantly, it protects anybody who is immuno-comprised or high-risk for catching COVID-19. For all the college students who think it’s ridiculous that the rest of the year was canceled, remember that even though the Coronavirus might not pose a grave danger to you, it’s life and death for others, and these are the people that must be kept in mind during this time.

Now, I move on to my new reality– virtual learning. Next week, I will log on to WebEx with the 100 other students in my class and attempt to learn business statistics. I’m expecting more than our fair share of technical difficulties, including glitching screens and people who just can’t figure out how to work that mute button. 

But I believe that closing universities had to be done in order to ensure the safety of others, which is worth any and every “freshman year experience” in the world. 

So for now, I’ll continue to take classes from my living room, complete with many trips to the kitchen for study snacks, and start planning for what will hopefully be a full sophomore year.