On Tuesday, as active student cases surpassed 400, Cornell moved all final exams online. But some professors had already moved exams online for some or all of their students earlier in the week, taking precautions as active student cases spiked on campus.
I’m spending the month of October in Michigan, a key swing state among a small cohort sure to decide both the presidential election and control of the Senate. While this is the priority I chose to set for myself this semester, I remain enrolled as an online student taking a full credit load at Cornell. The readings are immersive and the lectures are informative. Given that most of my peers living in Ithaca have only one or two in-person courses, the class component of my education this semester is not too dissimilar to theirs. Still, without the ability to study in groups, engage in free-flowing conversation and take full advantage of university facilities, a pressing truth becomes clear: This is not worth the money.
As college students across the nation impatiently await announcements from universities regarding the status of the coming fall semester, many of us are searching for productive and meaningful ways to spend our free time now that classes have ended. With internships, summer research and academic programs cancelled, some of us are trying to readjust to living in our hometowns with parents and siblings, away from the friends, professors and resources we’ve come to rely on at Cornell. As we navigate this new reality, many students are staying connected with peers through podcasting, music-making and Youtubing, innovating new ways to engage with others in the absence of physical space. A few weeks ago, I learned about a free platform called Schefs that aims to connect students from different universities and facilitate interesting discussions about a wide range of topics, from pop music to quantum mechanics, all through a shared passion for food. Co-founded by two college students, Pedro Damasceno and Lola Lafia of Columbia University, Schefs started out as a way for like-minded people from schools across the nation to come together on their campuses and share a themed meal.
The reports — which “provide a clear sense of the considerations that will go into final decisions about whether … we are able to invite our students back to Ithaca,” Pollack wrote in a Monday afternoon email — offer the most comprehensive look yet at what college in the era of COVID-19 may entail.