Graduating seniors at Westminster College have differing opinions on the impact of moving classes online, with some unsure if it will affect them graduating on time.
The school announced Wednesday it would finish Spring semester online until the end of May Term to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The announcement came suddenly, with administration saying changes can be made at any time depending on the development of the virus.
“I don’t believe the college closure will impact me getting my degree,” said Chloe Davis, a senior studying sports management, in an email. “But everything is changing hour by hour, so I’m waiting to see where we’ll go from here.”
While it can be difficult for some students to adapt to online classes, Kate Wilson — a senior studying English literature — said the move to virtual learning should’ve been available much sooner.
“I also find it upsetting that I and other disabled students have been asking for more accommodations, such as online learning, and these have only truly been made available when the entire campus is at risk,” Wilson said.
Students with health concerns say it isn’t worth the risk
For students with heightened health concerns, they say continuing classes in-person isn’t worth the risk. Gavin Dickamore, a sophomore studying psychology and sociology, said he would be worried to return to campus and be surrounded by students who could potentially be carrying the virus.
Being diagnosed with diabetes, Dickamore said if he was exposed to the virus his recovery time would be much longer. While a smaller campus holds a smaller chance to be exposed to the virus, Dickamore said students still congregate in large groups across campus — whether it’s the Shaw Student Center or Giovale Library.
That situation would worry Dickamore to the point where he wouldn’t want to come to campus — missing out on potential attendance grades. But the potential risk wouldn’t be worth it, he said.
He said his biggest concerns would be depending on other students’ hygiene to keep him healthy. Instead, moving online is the better choice to keep everyone safe.
“Take a step back to acknowledge the privilege of not having to worry about it as much,” Dickamore said. “[Use your] voice to help others who don’t feel recognized.”
Some students say there are struggles to moving online
While completing classes online isn’t the main concern, senior Chloe Davis said the absence of in-person resources will be harder to adapt to.
“I need to be able to access the Writing Center and Career Center, and the website doesn’t mention anything about the Career Center hours,” Davis said. “While the Writing Center online help will do, I don’t see it being as effective as in-person help.”
On the other hand, some seniors say they believe the online classes will be more convenient toward finishing their degree.
“I know that everyone is panicking and trying to make the best of the limited information we have, but it’s been a struggle,” said Kate Wilson, a senior studying english literature, in an email. “As a chronically ill and disabled student, I find the online move to be quite convenient.”
Some seniors cite worries about fulfilling credits that require work hours, such as internships.
“Now that my internship has closed I don’t know if Westminster will accept my full credits because I won’t be able to complete my full hours,” Erin Bianuccir, a senior studying justice studies with a Spanish minor, in an email.
Some seniors are disappointed with end of college career
With the semester moving online until June 5, Westminster seniors who are on track to graduate will finish their college careers remotely. Which is a disappointment to seniors who wanted to celebrate their last months as a college student.
“It’s kind of a bummer,” said Emily LaBlond, a senior majoring in math. “As a senior, I’m concerned about all these events getting cancelled, like the Senior Dinner and the Honors banquet.”
LaBlond lives in California and went home for the spring break. With classes being moved online, she said she doesn’t know if or when she’ll ever come back to campus.
The most disappointing part? She said she’ll never get to experience having that last class. The last class as a senior. The last class as a college student. She never got to say goodbye.
“I can’t comprehend never going back to Westminster,” she said. “I never got any closure.”
Forum reporter Alexys Smith contributed to this report.