Miranda Anapol in happier days on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Photocredit: Miranda Anapol
I donâ€™t think I will ever forget the day I received an email from the University of California, Santa Cruz, informing me that Spring Quarter of 2020 would now take place virtually. Before then, coronavirus felt far away. We were not yet in the stage of shelter in place, and the benefits of wearing a mask were still being debated. Looking back on it now, that email quite possibly marks the end of any in-person college experience for me. I may never again get to sit in a lecture hall with other students sharing a moment of laughter at a professorâ€™s joke or whispering to a classmate asking if they, too, are completely lost.
March 16, 2020
â€śI write today to announce that the suspension of in-person instruction, lectures and discussion sections, extended to the full spring quarter, will include all labs, studios, field research, and field study courses. The suspension of in-person instructional meetings includes doctoral and Masters thesis defenses and oral examinations and all meetings of lab research groups. There will be no exemptions for in-person instructional activities.â€ť
Interim Campus Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
There is something about Zoom classes that feels uncomfortably personal. A yes, please look at my face from up close. I do hope you enjoy my background which is indeed my childhood bedroom. Yes, I do have that many stuffed animals on my bed, and No, I was not ambitious enough to pick up the dirty socks from the floor before class started.
A boy in one of my classes uploaded an image of marijuana leaves to use as a virtual background. Maybe thatâ€™s the better option than displaying the rainbow cat painting hanging on the wall behind me.
The other day I heard a commercial advertising the Back- to-School season. I didnâ€™t feel my usual excitement at the idea of buying new clothes and colorful pens. Instead, the commercial made me sad. It is quite heartbreaking that I will not get to spend this coming fall, which will be the start of my final year at UCSC, amongst the beautiful redwood trees that make up my campus. I have felt so lucky to spend my time at a school encapsulated by nature and I truly believe the gift of walking from class-to-class on that campus and having in-person interactions with both the natural world and fellow students is indispensable.
With Fall Quarter less than one months away, the level of uncertainty and lack of communication on the part of UC makes me nervous and frustrated. As of now, we have been told all classes will be remote/online with some exceptions. Of the 873 courses currently available for enrollment, ten of them are taking place in-person. One of these is a Radio Production course, another a Field Geology Lab. As time progresses, I am curious to see if more classes are added to the list or if they will be taken away entirely. The best justification for in-person classes is that some majors cannot exist without hands-on learning for students.
What will the world be like if our future surgeons are earning their degrees over Zoom? Will virtual incisions and the board game, Operation, become the new passing test?
UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive told the new freshmen that housing will be â€śprioritized for various continuing student populations and new transfer students.â€ť With this, much of the college freshman experience is lost. As a student going into her final year of college, I strongly encourage incoming freshmen and their families to reconsider whether paying full price to attend a college virtually is a choice they want to make. Off-campus housing prices in Santa Cruz are astronomical and I fear the desire of incoming students, eager to move out of their parentsâ€™ home, even though classes are online, will make the housing crisis even worse.
There is so much uncertainty regarding the future and how to go about receiving an education during COVID. Iâ€™m trying my best to stay optimistic about a vaccine or new protocol that will allow me and all other college students to return to the in-person experience we are all still paying full tuition for. If it doesnâ€™t, what do you think the chances are of the UC system giving me a refund? Iâ€™d say slim to none!