When COVID-19 hit the US, Ohio was one of the first states to take action, and Ohio State was the university in the state leading the switch to online classes and shutting down buildings. There were many questions about what would happen with the end of the semester, student org events, and most importantly, graduation. Now that things are online through July, some seniors reflect on what should've been their last semester on campus.
Meet the Panel:
Where are you spending quarantine? What's the vibe?
Ellen- I'm back in my hometown, right outside of Cleveland, Ohio with my parents and my switch. I spend my days doing homework and playing animal crossing. The vibe feels very much like my high school depression where I can't leave the house and my only joy is through video games. I'm a senior graduating in May with a degree in Computer Science Engineering and a minor in Chinese.
Zach- I'm quarantining in my studio apartment in Columbus, Ohio with my cat that I would not be surviving without. The vibe? In a word: constantly undulating. I have really high highs and really low lows. Tik tok is about the only thing getting me through it. I'm a senior graduating in Spring 2020 with a dual degree in Economics and Spanish.
Sarah- I'm in Columbus with one of my roommates. But we live in a duplex so it sounds like there are more of us. I graduated from OSU in December, and now my days are filled with teaching Spanish to 130 high schoolers online.
How do you feel about Ohio State's response to COVID-19?
Ellen- I think our university definitely did the right move shutting down and giving students the ability to move out of the dorm. I understand that university is a playground for germs and bacterias so limited the spread especially since you can't track where all students have gone over spring break. Limiting the spread and flattening is a communal effort and I'm honestly thankful of that move on the university's end.
Zach- Overall, it's what I expected it to be, very status quo. I think that the one thing that would've been nicer is if they would've done more for student employees, and at the beginning it was hectic because they kept rolling out emails constantly and no one knew what was happening, and trying to adjust, it was a lot. They did a B+ job, which gets the job done.
Sarah- I feel like OSU did the right thing by shutting down the dorms and moving all classes online through the summer semester. I feel like the biggest issue is the fact that they left their student employees not really employed, and without a lot of warning before things changed.
What do you miss most about being on campus?
Ellen- I miss the freedom of being on campus. I am so trapped in my hometown on so many levels, not even because of the quarantine and the stay at home order. Plus the scenery of campus is so very much gorgeous and breathtaking. My boring white suburb of Cleveland is drab and very boring, the opposite of Ohio State.
Zach- I relate to the tweets that say "I miss complaining about being at university." Number one is going to the gym because that was a big stress reliever and it made me feel productive. I also miss seeing friends in classes and work that I know I'll never see again.
Sarah- I miss my friends most of all. I was excited to not be taking classes this semester and to have a normal job where I would be able to hang out with my friends before we all go our separate ways around the globe. Now we hang out via video chat, but it's just not the same.
What's something you didn't realize you'd miss?
Ellen- I didn't think I would miss the RPAC. I was never the gym rat nor do I think I ever will be. But I just started into getting into a routine of exercising weekly last semester and I was glad about the machines and my friends guiding me along the way. I was able to focus on certain areas of my body that I wanted to train. I wasn't working out to get that beach bod, but it definitely was a better part of my week that I miss now.
Zach- Honestly, I miss walking to class because campus is so scenic. Even though I had to walk 20 minutes to classes, it was a nice walk because campus is pretty.
Sarah- I miss being able to enter the Ohio Union. I worked in the Union Market for my whole undergraduate career, and after I graduated, I was tutoring in the building, so I could still go back and visit my former coworkers. It's been a second home, the place that I may have spent more time in than my actual apartments and dorm rooms. Now it's just closed and it's weird to think that I can't just walk through, or hang out in the building instead of being cooped up in my home.
How has this impacted your jobs, both current and future?
Ellen- I work on campus as a student manager for some of the dining locations at OSU. The initial reaction from all of this was insane. We were told we had no jobs, we would have jobs, then we have a job writing reflection papers on allergens, but now we have no jobs again. But the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt in the beginning? 0/10 would not do again. I have been applying and interviewing with companies with all the extra time I have on my hands now. I hate how tiring the process of applying to jobs. But a lucky part of my industry is that working from home is a very common aspect of the job so many of the recruiters that I've been talking to have been adjusting well. The virus has made plenty of small talk for that and I seem to have been able to talk my way up with some of it. I can see WFH being implemented a lot more in any job that I take. But sometimes seeing someone face-to-face in a meeting doesn't correlate the same over zoom.
Zach- Everything is completely up in the air when it comes to work. My "current" job was as a part timer at the Union Market, and before COVID-19, I had a busy semester, and hadn't worked that much, and was planning on working a lot more after spring break. So then I came back and they were like "you can't work anymore" and there was no real alternative. The dining location was closed, and they tried to find another way, but it ended up being 8 hours of work for two weeks. Applying for new jobs has been difficult as well. I've applied to a lot of places, and have even had a couple of interviews, but then they told me that they're on an internal hiring freeze. The external agencies can hire, and I've applied for a few of them, but they're remote work, such as customer support. I did not get two degrees to go straight into customer support.
Sarah- I'm currently teaching online. I started a long term sub job at the end of February, and I will finish out the school year in that position, whether or not we come back to in person classes. I was planning on coming back to my undergraduate job during my masters, starting in the summer. But since everything is online, and buildings will probably still be closed, I have no idea what I'm going to do now instead.
What lasts were you looking forward to that you missed out on?
Ellen- There were so many lasts that I missed out on. The first one that always comes up is the prom event that my sorority hosts. It's pretty much a redo prom where students who didn't get a chance to be open with themselves in high school can have another chance in college, with who they truly are. We had so many fun raffles and the location this time around was a prime spot in the Ohio Union rather than the RPAC. I love being able to have a chance to dress up and I was able to find a cute velvet dress while thrifting this year too. Another thing I miss is rainbow celebration. There are always special graduation ceremonies for the different initiatives in the Multicultural Center. The one for LGBTQ+ students is the rainbow celebrations and they reward the hardworking students in the community with rainbow cords. Although I didn't join this community until later on during my time at OSU, I have truly felt a support and love from these people that I wish I could see one last time. I also miss the reading day breakfast that my workplace would put on. It's a time for free food (who doesn't love that?) and to see friends that I don't see often since we work opposite shifts now. Where do you find a better trauma bond than in a shitty food service job where your bosses don't care for you? I won't be able to say goodbye to them or even those bosses that did care. We were all just left hanging with so many questions of not knowing what the future will hold.
Zach- There's a lot. The first thing that comes to my mind is my last clock out at work. I feel robbed because I keep a lot of memories in Snapchat for my "lasts" of things. As a first and a last, bar crawl with all my friends because even if it gets rescheduled, people will have moved and it won't be the same. I have a group of friends from freshman year where we studied together in a specific room in the RPAC all of freshman year, and we'd make a point to go back and do that at least once a semester, but that can't happen. Also, it was my last year of intramural soccer. Even though we lost every game we played, it was still something that I didn't get to do. We played one game this year and lost.
Sarah- I was surprisingly, looking forward to senior bar crawl. I had reluctantly agreed to do it this May last year, but as time had gone on, I was excited about doing it and getting to have that one stereotypical senior day to spend with my friends. The other biggest last was with my theatre organization, OTL. Everything got canceled the week that we were supposed to start tech week, and there were still a month's worth of events that I expected to have to close out the year.