Nonetheless, COVID-19 has put a stop to that crucial time in students’ lives. The coronavirus pandemic has been an obvious catastrophe. Countless people have suffered, fallen victim to and died from the pandemic, and for some, there’s no end in sight. With human lives still at risk, the economy suffering and so much more, it seems students are once again some of the latest victims to COVID-19’s fallout.
Most American colleges were forced to go online and partake in virtual courses during the latter half of 2020’s Spring Semester. Now about four months later, colleges are understandably, but unfortunately, still forced to undergo virtual classes. On top of online learning, many colleges — including OU — have restrained from allowing most students to live in residence halls.
Ultimately, these decisions were made with the health of the American population in mind. Social distancing, wearing a mask and using common sense are all factors in putting an end to the pandemic, and obviously proceeding with college as usual lacks all common sense. However, because virtual college is the right thing to do doesn’t mean it’s the easiest or most enjoyable thing to do.
Between how the pandemic has been handled on a national level to how our university’s own administration has responded to COVID-19, frustration is understandable and should be recognized by those with authority and power. While cases continued to rise in Athens, OU’s administration failed to take meaningful, timely action. Those decisions had little effect on them but took a devastating toll on us. As students, we all have a voice, and we deserve and have the right to be heard.
As a senior, the university’s residence hall decisions don’t affect me and my off-campus housing. Nonetheless, I’m sad, frustrated and even angry for those who were supposed to live in residence halls this school year and can’t experience campus and Athens. To be frank, if this decision does affect you, you have permission to wallow in self-pity or scream at the world for a bit. Take your pick, fellow Bobcats.
Your first semester living in a dorm is monumental. It’s not only where you possibly find some of your closest friends, but for many, it’s their first step into adulthood, first time away from their hometown and, more importantly, the first time to discover themselves without their parents holding their hands.
To boil it down, college equals a sense of freedom unlike many other things. And while a big chunk of you can’t experience that yet, please hold tight. Take it from this old senior who’s currently seeing her last shred of college slowly slip into the grasp of COVID-19: your college years are just beginning, and you have lots of time to still get a taste of that sweet, sweet freedom before you’re plunged into full-blown adulthood. Though it’s not fair that you have to miss out now, be patient because all of these experiences will happen one day.
No matter if you’re sitting in your Athens apartment or sitting in your childhood bedroom miles away from campus, you’re a Bobcat. And if you haven’t learned already, Bobcats take care of Bobcats. This semester isn’t going to be easy, but hold onto those people who you connect with through classes, student organizations or even social media, and we’ll all get through this together. We may have not started the school year on a good note, but let’s sure as hell try to end on one.