Student response to COVID-19

Emma Garcia, Assistant News Editor

The outbreak of the Coronavirus has become a major disruption to colleges and universities across the country, with most institutions canceling in-person classes and moving to online-only instruction. The pandemic has significantly altered nearly every aspect of college life, from administrations and enrollment to collegiate athletics. These concerns extend to the financial future of higher education institutions in a time of considerable financial instability.

As the situation continuously develops, legislators have introduced bills to ensure students receive refunds for room and board expenses, while other states are considering bills that would pause the collection of payments on state held student loans. As of April 1, the number of learners required to stay at home due to the closure of their educational institution at all grade levels reached a peak of 1.598 billion from 194 countries. 

The president of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity Frank Vollmer said, “COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll on all aspects of student life, but specifically Greek life. COVID has resulted in delays in recruitment and even virtual recruitment. I’ve spoken to many other chapters and I know they’re struggling to find new students to join Greek life. Most classes are online, so many freshmen are at home or have no reason to leave their dorm rooms. As president, it’s especially difficult because the state, county and university have restrictions that we have to follow and I have to be the bad guy and tell my chapter that they can’t do things they’re used to doing. Overall, COVID has changed the way we run as an organization. We’re utilizing online platforms such as Zoom to hold meetings rather than meeting in person. I’m looking forward to the day we can get back to the way things were before.”

Additional concerns have risen regarding the quality of educational instruction that is provided remotely. Previous studies have warned that student performance, particularly for students that were already struggling academically, can seriously suffer in online courses. The shift to online courses has also prompted many colleges to reconsider grading systems to accommodate and support the students in transition.

Music education major Dante Patterson says, “Online learning is one of the several solutions to the COVID pandemic. The pros are that we can do it virtually anywhere, with no physical contact, reducing the possible spread of the disease. However, online learning is a huge struggle for most students. There is a lack of motivation, making students not do their work, and another problem is asynchronous classes. One of my classes is asynchronous and it can be very easy to fall behind in the class. My other online classes are synchronous, and I find it a lot more convenient.”

The cancellation of all winter and spring athletic championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments has created significant impacts across college athletics. The NCAA announced that it will cut distributions to Division I schools by up to $375 million due to the cancellations of the tournaments.

Freshman cheerleader Mercedes Alejandre is feeling down about not getting a normal season but is still thankful for the opportunities presented. “Going into college I knew I always wanted to continue cheering especially at the collegiate level, but since the pandemic, cheering had to be a little different,” she said. “I was unable to move in earlier in the summer and start practices. I was unable to form bonds with my teammates and have a normal first year college athletic experience. But since then, we started practicing outside, while social distancing. It’s both a blessing and a curse you could say. Yes, I get to practice and be with my team and do what I love, but it has to be completely outside and mostly conditioning. We have restrictions to follow like not being able to stunt or tumble on the mat together.”