Although ramped up COVID-19 vaccine distribution marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic, it is accompanied by rising concerns over the possibility of unpleasant side effects following vaccination. But these side effects are expected — and normal.
It is safe to say Cornellians limped to the finish line last semester. With fewer breaks, unusually substandard dining hall sustenance and a monumental Student Assembly calamity, things certainly went smoother than expected.
Cornell’s expansive testing capabilities and containment of the virus even garnered national media attention. The COVID-19 response was managed so effectively, in fact, it received the highest honor given to an institution: a Good Morning America segment anchored by Robin Roberts, featuring reporter sidekick Tom Llamas. Folks, we’ve made it. Undoubtedly, the University deserves praise.
You lied to us, President Martha Pollack. In an email you wrote to us on March 20, 2020, you promised us that we would have our commencement, and, in your own words, that: “It will be a joyous one!…It will take place in Ithaca.”
And yet I awoke Wednesday morning to an email from Michelle J. Vaeth, associate vice president for alumni affairs, effectively crushing any hopes of the in-person commencement that had been promised to the accursed Class of 2020. (Seven hours later, presumably at the end of the workday, you deigned to tell us yourself).
In lieu of an in-person celebration, you offered — no, you told us — that we would instead have a virtual celebration as a part of the Cornell Reunion. If the past year has taught me anything, though, it’s that virtual celebration is an oxymoron. Haven’t we been subjected to enough virtual happy hours and hangouts in the past year to learn that they just don’t work?
At best, the virtual celebration will be mediocre.
Over a year into the pandemic, and some of life’s old annoyances are becoming increasingly missed. Helen Newman’s stinky old gym is one gem that Kempff ’23 is missing after not having been in a real gym for months.
My thoughts tend to drift to home nowadays. It’s not out of nostalgia or homesickness. It’s out of appreciation. I’ve been in Ithaca for three weeks now after spending last semester in Miami studying remotely. And the reason why these three weeks have gone so well is directly because I was home last semester.
I used to envision a daily routine where I wake up early enough for a relaxed breakfast, and make the most of my spare time in between walking from class to class. When I first started college last fall, these goals regressed into oblivion in a matter of a few weeks and my standards fell to limiting myself from pressing snooze more than twice. Now, in a semester where going to class requires the minimum of a few presses of the mouse, my optimism heading into the semester — including a hope for a routine as close to “normal” as possible — has fared even worse.
For many of us, online classes have only enabled the tendency to only do just enough to get to class on time — and it has greatly lowered that threshold. What used to be a morning routine and walk to class is now a roll out of bed. This heightened convenience has let even those of us on the strictest regimens slip up.