A year like no other

Students share thoughts on campus changes

This year, students had to decide whether or not to take this semester online, in person or commute. Many students based their decision on a major factor: safety.

Online students discussed concerns about the unknowns of this semester and staying home for their families’ safety.

“In such uncertainty, it was something I was able to control,” Lauren Shcrock, ’23, said.

Being comfortable in knowing the people they are around are 100% safe was one of the big reasons students chose to stay home. Schrock is hopeful that, when the spring rolls around, colleges will be completely in control of the virus.

“I figure I’ll hopefully be able to see (my friends) again come spring,” Shcrock said.

Staying home eliminated the fear of students on campus jeopardizing not only their own health and safety, but also the others around them.

For students living on campus, the concern of others not abiding by safety rules is prevalent. Kendall Crum, ’23, said that she had no doubt that some students will be breaking the rules.

“There’s always going to be someone that wants to party hard and live their regular college experience,” Crum said. “That can’t happen at this moment.”

Students understand that this is a difficult time, but they also understand the need to hold each other accountable. The college is also trying to keep checks on the students by having them check in everyday on how they are feeling and testing to ensure student safety amongst each other.

Most commuting students wanted to be able to take classes in person to receive face-to-face instruction and be able to work at Allegheny College. Students feel that their professors have been communicating effectively.

“They’ve been very understanding and sympathetic, but honestly, it’s been kind of the same as how they always are,” Alexandria Miller, ’21, said. Miller is feeling good about the quality of education this year.

Commuting students are running into some problems where on-campus employment is concerned.

“I wanted to do a work study for (my TA position), but they said that because I’m not on campus, they can’t pay me for it, so I’m just taking it for a credit,” Miller said.

The dining changes have caused some mixed feelings for students that are living on campus.

“Not being able to go in and eat at Brooks or at (McKinley’s) with my friends is disappointing,” Bennett Westfall, ’23, said.

The student dining experience has changed from previous semesters. However, many students have found other ways to enjoy one another’s company outside. Blankets are now set out on the grass throughout the campus, and groups are social distancing as they eat and chat. Students don’t get the buzz of students in the dining hall, but  do get to see groups enjoying their company in the sun. The food has also changed. Jillian Bradley, ’23, described the setup of Brooks Dining Hall.

“There (are) (fewer) options to eat, which makes it hard for people to find something they like or choose what they specifically want from each section” Bradley said.

The online ordering system at McKinley’s is another new feature of campus dining.

“(McKinley’s) is making big moves with changes that people are responding well to,” Crum said. “With online order and a scheduled pickup, people are enjoying the safe and effortless system. The food at Kins is made-to-order, so I can order my food the way I like and need.”

Students are not worried about the amount of help they will still receive at Allegheny. “I’d say pretty (I’m) confident,” Annie Miller, ’21, said. “I’ve been getting all these emails and (professors) seems really enthusiastic, like they’ve been working hard on this. Communication at this time has been limited to purely online, so that feels a little different.”

The Maytum Learning Commons and office hours are still available to students both remotely and on campus.

“I do believe that the resources we’ve had on campus will still be adequate because the learning commons and the office hours are still available,” Crum said. Many students are remaining optimistic on the quality of their education.

“I’m not expecting that the quality of the education will be 100% what it was before we left last semester,” Westfall said. “After a semester of fully online instruction, doing a mixture of online and in person will be much closer to what we had.”

Now that the faculty have experience teaching online, the virtual component of some classes won’t be so new.  Schrock commented on her classes and how she feels about being a remote student.

“I definitely don’t think it will be the same quality as a normal semester, but I also don’t think that’s exclusive to me as a remote student,” Schrock said.

Crum said she has no doubts when it comes to learning in her classes.

“I am very confident in my professors’ ability to teach properly,” Crum said. “So, I believe my quality of my education will remain as high as it always has been.”