College students across America have been sent home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. For many, this just meant packing up and moving off of their campus a few months earlier than expected, but for seniors, this was a final goodbye to the life they came to know and love as a college student.
It was spring break, and college students all over the country were out and about living the vacation they’ve had planned for months. But, while laying poolside at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, senior at Roger Williams University (RWU), Sarah Wurzer, got a notification on her phone that would change life as she knew it. Students were no longer able to return back to campus after break, for the rest of the spring semester.
“We were out of the country, not paying attention to the news so we didn’t realize how bad the problem really was here. At first, we were kind of in denial about our school being closed,” Wurzer said.
What does this mean for Wurzer? She would have to leave her final few months of college without any form of closure, unsure if she would be able to return to campus for her items. What was supposed to be a relaxing and fun-packed trip in Cabo ended in a whirlwind of emotions for this group of seniors.
In an email from RWU President, Dr. Ioannis N. Miaoulis said “The possibility that I have to cancel commencement is … difficult for me.” As of now, seniors at RWU are planning to graduate remotely.
“We worked so hard for four years and now are not getting any celebration or recognition,” Wurzer said.
Maddie Proctor, a senior at American University (American) in Washington D.C., is in a similar situation as Wurzer. As of Monday, March 30, American canceled their plans for commencement and announced they will be holding a virtual ceremony instead. “I know it’s the right decision, but as a senior it’s still hard for me to accept that I don’t get to walk as a graduate,” Proctor said.
Other schools, such as The University of New Hampshire (UNH), are planning to postpone their graduation ceremony so seniors will still get to walk across the stage. Cassie Haskell, a senior journalism major at UNH, left for spring break knowing the following two weeks of classes would be taught remotely. Just a few days into her break, UNH decided to move online for the entirety of the semester.
“I never thought all my years of school would end like this. As a senior there are so many things I was looking forward to in my closing months of being an undergraduate, and I wish I could have received more closure on the year,” Haskell said.
Reminiscing on her time at UNH, Haskell said she will mostly miss all the friendly faces she sees on her walks downtown or from class to class.
Holden Miller, senior at Bucknell University (Bucknell) in Pennsylvania, too received the news that his school would no longer allow students on campus for the remainder of the semester. Upon hearing the news, he said, “I think we were all in shock. One of my friends broke down and it was pretty upsetting.” Miller was forced to pack up his house and head back to New York in under a week.
As of now, Bucknell’s commencement has been moved to the weekend of July 17.
Schools from California to New York have all faced similar closures, such as Ohio State University, University of Florida and Cornell University. Even Harvard gave students only five days to pack up and move out.
With such abrupt endings to their final college semesters, seniors all over America have been feeling hopeless, heartbroken and disappointed.