Students studying off campus adjust to a new normal

Sam Boudreau

Senior News Writer

 

For Marloes Krabbe ‘21, an anthropology and art history double major, Art History & Museum Studies club meetings are usually a normal part of her routine. However, since studying remotely due to COVID-19, this meeting has taken a turn she never expected. As Krabbe was preparing to start the meeting online, a commuter bus slammed into a nearby powerline, knocking out the power for her whole street in a town right outside of Detroit, Mich.. “It’s like if I lose power at home, and I don’t have any way of contacting my professors, it feels like I just disappear.” This is just one of the many obstacles facing remote students this semester.

For many, living in different time zones has been an issue. Across the Pacific Ocean, sophomore Kaylee Liu ‘23 lives in Singapore, where the time zone is 12 hours ahead of Wooster. “All of my classes are recorded, so I watch them asynchronously, and then meet with my professors once a week. I am really grateful for how much professors have helped me this semester,” Liu said. “While professors have worked around the time zones, group work appears to be a major challenge. “I can’t really ask [about] problems in the group chat since nobody is awake.” Liu serves as an editor for The Wooster Voice and is a member of Pi Kappa, where she has been able to communicate with members.

While some clubs and organizations have been able to thrive remotely, others have struggled to adjust.

Kennedy Pope ’23, a psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) double major, is studying remotely from Atlanta, Ga. and the distance has hurt her ability to contribute to clubs on campus. “It has definitely been rough to adjust to clubs remotely,” said Pope. “The clubs that I’m an active participant in are all focused on creating safe spaces and community for Black people on campus. A large part of creating that atmosphere has always been having events and meetings face-to-face and present with one another, so that people know they are seen and  appreciated. Sadly, going completely virtual has made it harder to recruit and be known to the first-years on campus. I am optimistic that everyone’s efforts will allow us to get over this hurdle.”

Pope noted that “the last time it was election year on campus, it was not the safest or healthiest environment for people of color in Wooster, so I hope that all cultural clubs will still be effective resources for students in need.”

This remote semester has helped Pope learn more about herself, she tells The Voice. “I had never realized how much I relied on the positive peer pressure from my friends to study … It is a lot easier to do your work and study when everyone around you is doing the same thing as well,” she expressed. “If you’re the only person in your environment who is in school, it is extremely easy to not feel any sense of urgency to complete assignments.”

Like Pope, many other students have focused on how to make a difference in an election year. Alec Monnie ’21, a political science major currently studying from Meadville, Pa. is serving as an advisor for Joe Biden’s rural coalition in Pennsylvania and working at a local deli. “Socially, it has been pretty hard to be at home pretty much all the time,” Monnie reflected.“I have been working in a deli at home two days a week, and recently started a position on the Biden campaign, so I’ve been working a lot more than I normally do on campus, and even with my I.S. and classes, I still have considerably more free time than I do when I’m at school.”

When asked how professors have made their courses accessible, Monnie has been very impressed as “professors have been wonderful at being accessible in light of the circumstances this semester.”

Halen Gifford ‘21, a communication studies major from New Albany, Ind., agrees. “All of my professors have been extremely accommodating,” she told The Voice. Due to health concerns, Gifford decided to study from home. While she misses her dorm, she admits that “it is nice having a real kitchen [as] it has been great to wash dishes in a real sink and make toast whenever I want.”

Chris Roche ’23, a sophomore studying remotely, agrees. “Not to throw shade on Lowry food, but having home cooking every day is a plus to studying remotely. Another plus is being around my family a lot more and being able to walk my dog when it’s nice out,” Roche noted.

For many, the Independent Study (I.S.) experience defines senior year, as Gifford pointed out that “this is not the I.S. experience I expected … but I have enjoyed it so far.” While working on her I.S., which “is a genre study of horror cinema,” Gifford credits her mom as a great support. “One nice thing [is that] my mom has watched all the films I’ve looked at for my literature review with me which has been very wholesome. Virtual learning, as we all know, is a challenge. However, I have gotten pretty used to it.”

“Working successfully on an I.S. from home sounded intimidating at the start of the semester, but I think it has gone well so far,” said Carlos Owusu-Ansah ’21, a math and physics double major. “The  hype around I.S. is not felt as strongly from [home]. That is a bit sad because I was hoping to put my best effort into the project.”

Many students miss the resources that the College of Wooster offers, especially during I.S. “For books and articles that I need for I.S., I want to critically read them, but without the printing capabilities offered on campus, that has been hard,” said Marloes. “There’s just this weird duality with being at school and home.You have to keep up with your friends, attend classes and be there for your parents. It’s something that I’ve never had to deal with before.”