By Molly Lemke
“I’m sick of everyone complaining about the coronavirus,” an acquaintance says on Facebook, punctuating the post with aggressive exclamation points. “If you and your family aren’t sick, you have nothing to complain about!” Her criticism is a slap. I have posted an objection about Commencement being pushed back to October, and wonder if I’m one of the ninnies she’s disgusted with. Others are quick to point out that graduation could have been cancelled instead of merely delayed. Is it wrong for seniors to be upset?
It’s taken four years – or more – to reach this particular point in our lives. We made it through freshman fears, the sophomore slump, and, as juniors, watched the class of 2019 walk across the Commencement stage. For me, last semester was consumed with the rigors of surgery class. When school resumed in January, I was more than ready for the final sprint to graduation.
Coronavirus fears ramped up during spring break. We were advised to pack with the knowledge we may not return to campus for a few weeks. I really hoped it wouldn’t happen. April is the month of big events at Wilson. Every weekend is jam-packed with picnics, dances, performances, and ceremonies; double that for seniors, who are finishing up projects and getting ready to graduate. The loss of even one week was not going to be pretty. Anyway, the pandemic solved that problem. On March 17th, our new college president announced that Wilson College would switch to online learning for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.
For the seniors, that meant our last day at Wilson had already come and gone. Unlike the classes before us, we wouldn’t decorate our professors’ doors for Senior Night, steal the Odds’ flags one more time, or send our daisy chain down the Con. We wouldn’t even get to say goodbye to our friends and professors in person. This semester is supposed to be a celebration of everything we’ve done, and everything we hope to accomplish in the future with a degree in hand. Instead, we’re slogging through online classes alone, with nothing to look forward to at the end of the semester except a virtual pat on the back. Coronavirus, meet senioritis.
I guess what I want to say is, we’re allowed to be unhappy. We can be grateful for our health, and still mourn what could have been. I know that the professors and administrators at Wilson are going to do their best to make an October Commencement feel like the real deal. I know that we’re going to make it through this, and that it’s only a bump in the road on the way to an amazing future. Despite what you may hear, this is not the end of the world.
I will still miss you all very much on May 17th.
And that’s okay.