By Erin Dickinson ’24, Staff Writer
Since the announcement that campus would be closed for the remainder of the fall semester, St. John Fisher College students have had to quickly adjust to a new reality. For upperclassmen who were on campus this past March, having to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice was nothing new. But for members of the freshmen class, the sudden shift to remote learning was just one more chapter in an unprecedented and unpredictable first year.
For freshman Jenna Vinoya, a nursing major and Service Scholar, the campus closure came as a surprise. “I didn’t expect the closure”, said Vinoya. “I anticipated maybe going online for two weeks, but still staying in the residence halls on campus.”
Similarly, senior education major Alex Buhrle was surprised by the announcement. “I definitely thought that since we had made it seven weeks, we would be fine to finish out the semester. But I also didn’t expect the outbreak to explode like it did.”
Due to the rapid nature of the campus outbreak of COVID-19 cases, residential students were forced to very quickly make plans to move home. For many upperclassmen like Burhle, who has an off-campus apartment, this wasn’t an issue. But for freshmen like Vinoya, who lives across the country from Fisher in California, quickly getting home posed a problem. “I had to stay with my boyfriend and his family, who generously offered, because I just couldn’t get a flight home in the span of 20 hours”, said Vinoya.
The time change has also posed a problem in the transition to online learning, Vinoya says. “I wake up [for classes] and it’s still pitch black outside”. Even without the added stress of moving out of a dorm, Buhrle was still disappointed to see her in-person semester come to an end. “I was most concerned about feeling like I’m missing out, especially with it being my senior year. I like the atmosphere of Fisher, and just being on campus with friends.”
A member of both the women’s volleyball and track and field teams, a main concern of Buhrle was missing out on her last year as a student-athlete. “Being a student-athlete has been a huge part of my college experience. With campus closing and not being able to do that, it made me feel like my senior year was already coming to an end.” While members of the freshman class will get to return and eventually have a “normal” college experience, returning home still felt like a great loss for many.
When asked what she missed most about being on campus at Fisher, Vinoya responded, “I miss the fluidity of my time… I love being home with my family but it’s hard having to be mindful of their schedule when I’m used to eating and studying whenever it’s most convenient for me”.
Despite having very different on-campus experiences, both Vinoya and Buhrle expect the Fisher campus to reopen for the spring semester.
“I honestly expect to [reopen]”, said Vinoya. “Hopefully next semester there will be more clear communication from administration. I feel like a lot of students were frustrated by the lack of information and communication this semester”.
Buhrle, who will be primarily off-campus next semester to complete her student teaching placement, agreed that there will likely be changes in the spring.“The terms of us being on campus won’t loosen up in any way, and will probably be even more strict”, said Buhrle.
Even though she expects stricter conditions, Buhrle still wishes to see on-campus activity return. “I’ve developed such a home life in Rochester and at school that taking it all away very suddenly has impacted me a lot more than I thought it would. I’d rather be more restricted while on campus than never being allowed on campus again.”