The view from the third floor of 172 Tremont St. may not look different from only a week ago but the tone and anxiety permeating Boston is tangible.
Excuse the cliche, but one could cut through the stress and distraught felt by college students with a knife. The rise of COVID-19 has been swift and unforgiving and the measures to curb an outbreak with the potential to spread exponentially have devastated every facet of our lives as students.
While the laundry list of colleges and universities altering the course of their semester flowed in this week, a degree of separation from the ensuing madness was still tangible at Emerson. Yes, President M. Lee Pelton announced that classes would transition online but it almost felt like we were in the midst of getting another extended spring break.
For several days, we lived in some sort of strange bliss. Students had the luxury to decide whether or not they wanted to stay or go home—a generous offer from the college administration. But of course, reality hit and the college decided to join other institutions in asking students to vacate dorms.
I’m not sure how I am dealing with the situation. Being a journalist allows you to feel at one moment removed from a situation you are covering and the next completely engrossed in every emotion associated with the circumstances. I’ve allowed myself only brief moments to process the events of the past week and I find that I’ll have very few seconds to think through what is unfolding over the course of the next few months.
For college students, the effects of coronavirus left the world falling with nothing to grasp. It might sound dramatic but for most of us, the path always seemed certain. We would finish out the semester in a dorm worrying about school work, our social life, partners, and what we would eat at the Dining Center. While some of those things are still on our plate, it seems like a dishwasher just went on overdrive and left the platter spotless in the worst ways.
The range of feelings among my colleagues this week is wide-ranging. Some believe it’s in our best interest to head home while others feel like their entire world is crashing around them with only days to figure out next steps. The latter seems like the most common.
What to do about housing? Food? Travel? Safety? Health? Jobs? Relationships? Friends? Family? All questions my peers are considering at this moment.
The college made decisions with the best information available to them at the moment. To ask whether we agree with the move or not seems naive. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is reality. It finally caught up to Emerson College.
Boston is about to experience streets, bars, restaurants, and academic institutions void of what makes this city so wonderful—students. Shouldn’t this be something that happens in the summer?
I suppose all we can do right now is try to hold steady, take a breath, and find out what the best decision is for you. Think of your family and home. Take comfort in the last few moments we have together and the final shards of peace and quiet. The following months are uncertain and have the potential to grow more precarious.
Chris Van Buskirk, Editor
The Berkeley Beacon