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If you haven’t realized this already then I guess I’ll just have to be the first to break it to you that we’re in a pandemic.

At the beginning of this tragedy, many institutions closed down leaving the majority of us stuck at home attempting to make sourdough bread while stocking up on paper towels and toilet paper. Now as the months go by, what was previously seen as a DEFCON 1 situation is now being treated as a minor but present inconvenience. Most institutions that were previously shut down have worked around the lack of physical presence of other human beings or have attempted to work around the pandemic itself by settling into our “new normal.” The collegiate system belongs to the latter of the two. 

University students and faculty, unless having a “proper cause” as to not return on campus, are made to physically present themselves in classes even with a worldwide pan dulce going on. I feel that the education system prioritizing “normalcy” over safety is truly a scam, but then again that’s just me. What the collegiate system is doing is not trying to prioritize normalcy or a proper on-campus experience, but rather prioritizing profit from on-campus housing and essentially promoting for students to return to said normalcy without any regard as to how that will be interpreted and executed (yes, I am looking at the people who have hosted or attended any gatherings consisting of 50+ people, not cool).

Now if that is not the biggest problem of how the university system has attempted to make safe alterations amid a Pythagorean Theorem, then the next point that I will be making is.

 If a student would like to opt for remote accommodation then they are essentially forced to provide proper paperwork from a licensed physician stating that the student cannot attend classes in person due to a physical or mental reason either having to do with the student themselves or with someone living within the same household as the student. 

Why is it that in order to want to prioritize your safety or the safety of those within your household you must provide some form of medical documentation? Why does a collegiate university that chooses to continue teaching even with the existence of 100- 200 COVID cases reported on-campus need a medical reason as to why someone does not wish to attend in-person classes? 

And now we come to my most favorite part of this article, the anecdote.

As a remote student myself I am aware that there will be alternatives in terms of classes that I no longer can take in person, but as a remote student, I did not take into consideration that I would be forgotten. 

Being a Musical Theatre major, one of our requirements we must fulfill each semester is to perform in front of an audience of our peers. Last semester, remote students were told to record videos of themselves and submit them into a specific dropbox. Of course, we remote students were under the impression that we would have to do the same routine this semester as well. Now keep in mind, last semester we were also told that we had to submit our video before the day of the recital.

So here I was, 10:27 pm, the first remote student submitting a recital performance for the semester, cutting it close by an hour. As I look in the recital syllabus to see exactly where to submit my video (email or dropbox) I notice that there is absolutely no reference towards remote students. Nothing. Nada! I read over the syllabus five more times, page by page, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. As panic begins to set in me and I can feel that prickly feeling at the back of my throat as tears well up, because yes I am that serious about my grades, I call my friend who also happens to be the same major as me. We go back and forth, scouring the syllabus, looking through our emails from last semester, and still, find absolutely nothing. So as we both look at each other, simultaneously agreeing “It is what it is,” I send an email to the coordinator in charge of putting together the syllabus, attach my video within the email making sure she receives it on time, and decide to call it a night. The next morning I wake up to a mass email being sent out to the entire department, A WHOLE MONTH AFTER THE SEMESTER HAS BEGUN, containing a dropbox for remote students. 

If I, anyone for that matter, hadn’t emailed them then we remote students would have failed the recital requirement for this semester. I understand that university administration is busy and has to take care of many things, but I also understand that there are about 10 other faculty and staff members who read over this syllabus, and not one of them even noticed the lack of recital accommodation for remote students.

Universities need to not only TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY but also not be so caught up in themselves and their so-called “semester plan” that they end up forgetting about the little guy. It’s always “we’re all in this together” until it’s not.

Karla is a 2021 cum laude graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Karla is originally from Maryland and is very proud of Karla's Afro-Latinx heritage. Karla is currently in pursuit of a career in TV/film acting, and Karla's dream role would be to portray a superhero. In Karla's free time Karla enjoys reading, watching Netflix (no chill necessary), and taking long walks on the metaphorical beach to universal equity.
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