Student Life In the Midst of COVID-19

I tweeted a very exaggerated statement in which I claimed that I thought the world was ending in January. I didn’t think the world would take me seriously. COVID-19 is officially a pandemic that has spread through various countries around the world. To put it simply, everyone is freaking out. Before you too are swept up in the fear mongering of the rest of the world, here’s a little biology lesson.

COVID-19 is a strain of virus that comes from the coronavirus family, a larger family of viruses. It was first seen transmitted from animal to people, which means it’s zoonotic. Typical symptoms are similar to the flu, but can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The best tip to stay healthy and safe is to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, thoroughly wash produce, cook meat and eggs thoroughly, and drink lots of water. If you’d like more information on this virus, visit this website.

I ask of you all to stay educated and not fall into the pit of fear where people make rash decisions without thinking and knowing the facts. A lot of racism and xenophobia has arisen from this virus and it’s crucial to be aware of the situation and continue treating all people with respect and kindness in this time of chaos.

Now that I have oriented you all with this, let’s discuss some of the most recent policies that are going into effect, supposedly for the protection and prevention of spread of the virus. One of these policies includes shutting down travel to Europe as a whole. The travel ban is meant to stop all outgoing travel from the United States to Europe, although it’s being claimed that individuals from Europe are still allowed to come back into the United States. It makes sense to allow US citizens back into their home country, but it’s important for them to be screened thoroughly to prevent further spread of the virus. There is a large number of people in Europe who have been exposed and verified of having the coronavirus which is why the screening step is so crucial..  Unfortunately, there’s no certain information on how or if these people will be screened or not. This policy is stated to go into effect on Friday, although I’m not sure of the accuracy of this information.

The biggest problem that I have been facing since the intensity of COVID-19 has escalated is that all university classes have been moved to online. If you’ve ever taken a science course before, you would know they are not meant to be taught or learned online. It has been a difficult and frustrating transition, affecting my grades due to my lack of understanding material being taught in this way. Thankfully I don’t have any labs remaining, but students who have hands-on labs in biology, chemistry, and physics are being stripped of the experience and material that other students would have gotten in a regular situation.

Any university costs a large amount of money to attend, and we pay these costs to get a certain type of education out of it. I’m not paying thousands of dollars to an institution for no reason. I want to learn. I want to get my degree. The tuition at Seattle University for one quarter, which typically lasts 11 weeks is just under $16,000. Since moving online and the cancellation of some classes altogether these last two weeks, my education has been compromised, and I’m losing close to $3,000. I don’t know if that’s a lot of money for other people, but that’s a lot of money for me. On top of that, I’ve been hearing rumors that the first third of Spring Quarter is also going to be moved online. Despite Seattle University shutting down in-person classes, the library and other buildings on campus remain open. Clearly, it’s only possible to get coronavirus in a classroom and not a crowded library filled with students trying to study for their exams.

Furthermore, not only are these institutions taking our money in this way, but there are many others who are evicting their students off campus, which is problematic for students who don’t have housing anywhere outside of their institution. Seattle University itself had the audacity to cancel all study abroad and international travel and share that no refund would be processed for the flights that people had already paid for.

I understand the fear surrounding this virus. It’s dangerous, and the health and safety of people is our top concern. However, I don’t think it means we should stay boxed up in our homes and stop living our lives. If you’re feeling sick, then yes, you should stay inside, quarantine yourself and heal so that you don’t put others at risk. But I don’t want to watch the world sink into a shell where people are scared of walking outside amongst other people. That’s not who we are as a society and I don’t want to become isolated from everyone due to the introduction of a virus akin to a slightly more aggressive version of the flu.

Please stay healthy and safe. Take care of your body and yourselves. Do what you seem is best for your situation. I wish you all the best of luck. We will get through these tough times.