Seton Hall announced last week that the University will be conducting classes remotely until at least April 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, with schools across the nation closing for the rest of the semester, SHU students are preparing for the worst.
Seton Hall seniors spoke to The Setonian about what it means to be missing their last few months as college students and the possibility of not having a graduation.
Aishwarya Rai, a senior economics major, said that the entire situation has her confused, and that she’s worried about how the economic impact of this virus will affect her job after graduation.
“The last semester before graduation is already a bittersweet one for me, but there’s this sense of oblivion that’s really disconcerting,” she said. “We don’t really know what the job market will look like after all of this blows over, and that’s really unsettling. It’s like an indefinite limbo period.”
Kendra Campbell, a senior sociology major, is a first generation college student. She said that the possible cancellation of graduation would “deeply sadden” her but would also take a great emotional toll on her family.
“The ceremony isn’t just for us, it’s for our families who did not have the opportunity to go to college,” she said. “Graduating college is an amazing accomplishment that not all people are afforded. The ceremony is a truly special reward, representing all of our hard work and it would be upsetting if they had to cancel it.”
Campbell said that she understands safety is the number one priority right now, but she is hopeful that the virus will die down by graduation time and Seton Hall will be able to have the ceremony.
Taina Vasquez, a senior criminal justice major, is also a first generation student. She says that the past week has been a “whirlwind of emotions.”
“Graduation means everything to family and myself and the thought that it might be cancelled is just sad,” she said. “I understand the need to take the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading but I just feel that it is unfortunate for seniors like me who have been working so hard these past few years and might not have a graduation ceremony to show our achievements.”
Claudia Emanuele, a senior creative writing and theatre double major, said that “this entire situation is not ideal in the slightest.” She was looking forward to her last spring fling, her last performance and her last sports game.
“The fact that we might not get to have those memories is downright disappointing,” she said. “Although this social distancing is what needs to be done, it’s absolutely devastating to think that I might not walk at my graduation after putting in four years of hard work and being the first in my family to go out of state for college.”
Emanuele concluded by saying that it saddens her to think that she may not get the opportunity to say goodbye to her friends and that she has a lot of unfinished business that she feels a senior should be able to do.
Randy Breigle, a senior business management major, said the switch to online classes and not going into work has been an odd adjustment for him. As a commuter, he was used to running around: scrambling to work, then running to school, then rushing home.
“Once this coronavirus stuff happened, everything came to an absolute stop – I worried for my friends on spring break vacations, I worried for my loved ones who take mass transit and I worried for the students in dorms who would be subject to close quarters with people who may be sick,” he said.
Breigle said that he was relieved when Seton Hall migrated to online classes because it removed one cumbersome element of his day, but as businesses began shutting down and events were cancelled, the reality of the situation sunk in. He said that he realized no classes meant he wouldn’t be able to see his friends and college basketball came to a halt, something that, as he put it, is “everything he lives for” during this time of year.
He is also worried about the fate of graduation.
“I wanted to live through those moments with my friends, who are also graduating, and take pictures to capture the moments along the way,” he said. “With the fate of graduation even in the question now, I can’t help but regret any event I didn’t go to, or any risk I didn’t take.”
Breigle concluded by saying that he commends Seton Hall for their response to the pandemic, calling their actions transparent and honest, but that it doesn’t make up for the fact that this is all taking away from the “magic that is supposed to be senior year.”
Laura Sorrentino, a senior marketing and management major, said that she had originally planned to graduate in December but didn’t because she wanted to experience all of her “last things.”
“My last dance recital, my last AOII formal, my last AOII date night and most importantly, my last times in a Seton Hall classroom,” she said. “It breaks my heart to think I may never dance again because of this, may not see some of my far out of state friends again and may not even have the chance to do what my last four years have been all about: walk across that stage and get the diploma I worked so hard for.”
“Seton Hall is more than just a school for me, it’s a family,” she said. “The thought of not seeing my family for the rest of the semester if we have to close for it is absolutely devastating.”
Sorrentino continued to say that she understands that Seton Hall is doing the right thing to keep students safe and that there’s no one perfect solution to this situation.
“I think right now all we can do is hope this all goes away soon so we can enjoy our last month as Pirates,” Sorrentino said.
Isabel Soisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on Twitter @IsabelSoisson.