Life with COVID-19 will mean adjustments to all aspects of student life at Suffolk University this fall and this has led to mixed reactions from Suffolk students.
With the public health emergency that is the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges in the Boston area have announced several different plans for the fall 2020 semester. Some schools like UMass Boston and Harvard University will be fully remote in fall 2020, while other schools like Northeastern University and Boston University are giving students the option to learn on campus or remotely, according to The Boston Globe.
“Initially I really thought that we were going to be completely remote this fall,” said Liv Dulong, a rising senior and general manager of Suffolk Free Radio (WSFR). “I was really happy to find out we aren’t completely remote.”
According to an email sent to students June 15, Suffolk University’s plan has a combination of online and in-person classes, with most in-person classes being HyFlex, where the instructor and only some students will attend class in person. The rest of the students in the class will attend it online.
“I definitely have some concerns about physically being on campus for my classes that are production based,” said Dulong, a broadcast journalism major, where Dulong said in person classes are crucial to the major’s curriculum that involves a lot of hands-on learning.
Healthwise, Dulong said she had full confidence that Suffolk will be a safe place this fall. But that likely won’t be the case for everyone.
“I think everybody has a little bit of concern with how things will be healthwise on campus,” she said.
Suffolk administration said in the plans to follow all public health guidelines in order to keep a safe campus environment for students and staff.
Incoming freshmen are also faced with the task of entering college at this extremely unusual and difficult time, when social distancing can act as a barrier to social interaction – an important part of college to many students.
“I was expecting my freshman year to be what anyone else’s would be like. I really wanted to experience what it was actually like to be a college student,” said incoming freshman Jessica Ke, a business management major.
With social distancing guidelines and limits on gatherings, students like Ke worry about building a social life and expanding one’s network.
“Socially, it’s going to be really challenging because you aren’t able to have big gatherings. You can’t hang out with every single person, you have to be aware of yourself and other people,” Ke said.
Ke also said that she was disappointed to not have the roommate experience she was hoping for, as Suffolk has planned to have all rooms be single occupancy this fall. Ke and her roommate had met online in January and already have built a tight bond, planning their room decor down to matching bedspreads.
For students living off-campus, looking for apartments in the area has been difficult as many landlords are not offering in-person tours for potential tenants to scout out units and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“As far as apartments right now, it’s very very difficult to get an apartment in Boston at least for me because I don’t want to sign a year long lease or month-to-month lease without seeing the place first,” said Jillian Maxwell, a sophomore who will be commuting to Suffolk from her hometown of Hull, Mass., a roughly 20 minute ferry ride from Boston, instead of renting in the city.
Many students are also grappling with the idea of having to stay home, should all their classes be online, to save the money that would go toward costly housing in Boston. However, for some students like Dulong, being on campus is vital to being able to perform her duties as a student leader.
Dulong hopes to give members of Suffolk Free Radio the option to broadcast in the studio or remotely this fall, which would allow members to participate in a way they’re comfortable with and follow Suffolk’s new health protocols.
The university plans to limit club gatherings to under 10 people with facemasks required and social distancing guidelines in place. Many large clubs are opting to have most, if not all, meetings over Zoom in order to remain inclusive and accessible to students.
Maxwell, who is in mock trial, said that the club has not yet communicated it’s fall plans, but said she believes it would be difficult for the club to proceed as it normally would with the travelling the club does for tournaments.
“I just don’t see how it can work online,” Maxwell said. “We can’t do online tournaments, it just doesn’t work that way, just like you can’t do online sports games over zoom.”
You can listen to the full interview on The Suffolk Journal Podcast on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.