Orji: Due to COVID-19, we should take a collective gap year

Joslyn Orji

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

One of the most shocking news developments this year was that schools and universities across the country announced that they would be reopening for the fall semester. Hopefully I am not alone when I say that I was surprised to hear such news, considering the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the nation

Ad

The quarantine summer, our extended spring break, happened because of the urgency of COVID-19 and how easily it spreads. Although I heard enough of the discourse between state officials and school administrators about this decision, I still found it ironic that thousands of people would be congregating on college campuses for the fall semester.

COVID-19 already impacted the spring semester so much that many graduations were either canceled or virtual. Why was it suddenly deemed safe enough to move back?

By the time August rolled around, it became pretty clear that students were the subjects of the petri dish experiment of a college campus during a pandemic. Based on the way this semester is already playing out, it is in everyone’s best interest to take a collective year off.

First of all, learning can be really difficult in an online format. It seems to me that we’re paying an insane amount of money just for our screens to lag every time we log onto a Zoom class. I am not too excited about spending all of this money on technology and fees just to say, “Can y’all hear me alright?” every time I unmute myself. 

Online lectures are 99% teaching yourself the content that you should be learning from professors and 1% constructing an overly excitable discussion post in order to score attendance points. What makes it bearable is the concerning fact that this is out of anyone’s hands and that everyone involved is trying their best. We cannot be frustrated with the professors, instructors and teaching assistants because they are just as frustrated as we are.

“The haste with which we returned to CSU has contributed to one of the most disorganized and ill-constructed semesters yet.”

We ought to be frustrated with the lack of progress that has been made toward controlling the pandemic in the United States as well as the lack of responsibility from our leaders. We could have been in a much better situation otherwise.

Taking a year off would provide us with more time to be organized as a community and as individuals. Sure, life goes on and the pandemic could not have kept us inside the house any longer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Many of us were itching to get back to campus — understandably so. But the haste with which we returned to CSU has contributed to one of the most disorganized and ill-constructed semesters yet.

I commend those who have gotten the hang of it and are thriving; this is by no means an attempt to be discouraging. However, for those who are struggling to find a routine and get acclimated to such a new system, more time would have been appreciated.

Ad

While CSU is doing a good job keeping up with COVID-19 testing and tracing possible positive cases, it is a little too soon to completely applaud their efforts. Part of the reason that we are going completely online after fall break is because of the likelihood of an outbreak on campus after students return.

Unfortunately, an outbreak is not too unbelievable. CU Boulder moved all of its classes to a completely online format temporarily.

Health concerns aside, the college experience is lacking in the engagement department. The full experience for freshmen and pretty much every other student is non-existent this semester. How will confronting the realities of COVID-19 drastically alter how a traditional college experience is delivered?

Each student with a roommate has to cross their fingers and hope that the other is following through with safe social distancing practices — as if getting along with new roommates wasn’t hard enough. Not to mention the fact that CSU is expecting thousands of young, excitable adults to follow public health guidance that limits interaction and socializing — something that is definitely running contrary to the logistics and rites of a traditional college experience.

College this year is not it, and unfortunately, there is little way around it. A collective pause to get our priorities straight as a nation would be greatly needed if we were to ever find an effective solution to combat COVID-19 without losing any more lives. The important thing to remember is that there are so many resources available to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, confused or stressed during these awkward first couple of weeks of school.

Joslyn Orji can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @lazy_svndae_.