March 19, 2020

HUA | Through COVID-19, Cornellians Come Together

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Every 24 hours, my life is uprooted again. Since Tuesday, every 24 hours has changed my future. Every 24 hours, a new update. Every 24 hours, a new sinking feeling in my chest.

Amidst the rapid changes, there were some horrific moments on campus that left me shell-shocked. Someone had their food stolen right out of their hands in Collegetown. I cleared my throat once on Ho Plaza and got several dirty looks. People I considered my friends refused to cancel spring break plans and went out to fishbowls, disregarding the pleas from so many others to think of the community and practice social distancing. Everyone was terrified and dejected, seniors most of all. I felt their pain, wandering around campus as if in a fever dream for days, unable to accept what had been taken away from me so quickly.

However, through all the lows, the Cornell community mobilized together in a way that I had never witnessed before. Graduate students (who usually don’t work with undergraduates in capacities other than TAing or directing research) quickly offered a bedroom, a spare couch, cars for transportation. Full and part-time workers at the Cornell Store opened up their homes to students who found themselves struggling to figure out housing after dorms were scheduled to close. Friends offered to help me pack even as they were figuring out their own plans and reached out to check in on me even as they were crying themselves. The Office of the Student Advocate immediately took in questions and compiled a list of resources for students struggling to figure out housing and transportation.

In my 3.75 years here, I have never seen the campus come together so quickly. Through the collective trauma, I have never felt so proud to call myself a Cornellian and to be a part of this family. This moment calls for such a profound level of community care, and while we aren’t always great at practicing this, through the past week we as Cornellians embodied this care without hesitation. Even as we give up our spring semester, our spring breaks, our Slope Day, our well-deserved time in the sun, and, for seniors especially, our last moments on Libe Slope with friends and our graduation to celebrate all that we have overcome and accomplished here, we all are doing so for the better of our community.

While I am also mourning the lost time, I know that we as a Cornell community ultimately chose humanity over selfishness. There will always be people who will work to make the community better, and better, until finally things aren’t horrible anymore. With our health professionals leading the way, Cornellians ultimately came together as a family, all squabbles and discontent put away for our glorious campus and community. So while I won’t be able to say a proper goodbye to Cornell, I know that Big Red blood will always run through us all.

Joanna Hua is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at jhua@cornellsun.com. Cup of Jo runs every other Friday this semester.