To all students of the University of Portland,
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To all students of the University of Portland,
Over the last few weeks, it’s amazing how quickly COVID-19 has absolutely overwhelmed every aspect of our social lives (or lack thereof, now). For the last week of school, every class started (at the very least) with a discussion about the most current updates, and it was the only subject my friends and I could talk about. Three weeks later — not that I am able to keep track of time anymore — the novelty (no pun intended) of the situation has worn off slightly. My friends and I are back to discussing other topics and I am again able to focus on totally unrelated classes like Criminal Constitutional Procedures.
After offering the job to three candidates, the University of Portland has failed to hire an ethnic studies faculty member, according to an email from Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Herbert Medina.
The economic shockwave caused by the coronavirus pandemic has rocked the nation, and in the last four weeks, unemployment claims shot up to more than 17 million. Students who have lost their jobs to coronavirus complications are dealing with an uncertain future, and some have decided to join the millions of other Americans filing for unemployment.
In the past month, we’ve had to readjust our idea of “normal,” and we will almost certainly have a “new normal” when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. We cross to the other side of the street when we see another pedestrian on the sidewalk. Grocery shopping is now an art of trying to avoid people, touch as few things as possible and complete our trip as quickly as we can. And we struggle to believe that a mere month ago, we were getting ready for Rock the Bluff, printing our graduation announcements and posing under the cherry blossoms.
When classes moved online in March, many UP students did not expect that these changes would last months. Some projections show that COVID-19 related quarantines and lockdowns could last through the summer. These circumstances have already affected internships for students and left many feeling anxious and unsure of what their next step is.
On Monday, April 6, The Beacon published some of the results of an anonymous Google form asking students to share their thoughts on online classes. In that article, we also invited professors and administrators to share their thoughts on online classes in a similar Google form.
A month ago when we heard the word “zoom” we thought of camera lenses and fast cars. Now those associations with the word have become irrelevant as COVID-19 forces us all online. This has resulted in many people turning to tech giants such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to give us the social interaction we desire.
Let’s not lie to ourselves, quarantine sucks. Having to stay at home and not seeing those same friends we saw every day at school is lonely. At first, I spent a lot of my time feeling bad for myself. But at some point, I started seeing some positives in the situation. Here are some of the positives I’ve found in this difficult transition, and hopefully you’ll start noticing these unexpected but beautiful moments as well.
During the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing and staying at home are important. In Oregon and Washington, COVID-19 numbers indicate that our actions are helping to lessen the COVID-19 curve and save lives.
In the midst of this global pandemic, with history taking place all around us, it can feel very overwhelming. I get it. I’m with you. This has been hard to navigate. In one way or another, we are all affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freshman nursing major Harris Harris woke up last Friday at their house in Folsom, California, ready to take on another day of online classes. They were looking at their phone when they saw the notification that would cancel any other plans for the day. They grabbed their packed bag and left the house, and before long they arrived at their destination for the day: a drive-through coronavirus testing facility.
Back in March, when Fr. Poorman announced that the university would be following suit alongside many other colleges and transition to online learning, I waited. I waited for the administration to extend an olive branch to students, staff and the broader UP community, and I waited for the administration to promise us that they’d taken time to look at what other universities were doing, making decisions that would be in the best interest of everyone.
After each commencement ceremony, University of Portland graduates are invited to pick up their diplomas at the Office of the Registrar. If you graduated last year, I probably gave you your diploma. As I sat there in that office, I heard proud parents and grandparents chatter about the ceremonies, bragging about their graduates to whoever would listen. I watched graduates unveil their diplomas for the first time as their little brothers and sisters tugged on their graduation gowns. And as I watched, I thought to myself, “In one year that is going to be me.”
More than a month ago on Ash Wednesday, members of the University of Portland trailing out from the Chapel of Christ the Teacher were asked why they celebrated Lent. Some students were renewing their Catholic faith; others were just beginning their journey.
On Wednesday, April 1, The Beacon shared a Google form inviting University of Portland students to share their thoughts anonymously on the transition to online classes, with the knowledge that some of their responses may also be published anonymously so that the UP community could have a better understanding of how online classes are progressing.
The University of Portland is implementing “belt-tightening strategies” to limit discretionary spending in response to potential financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
University of Portland Provost Tom Greene announced in an email to students Friday afternoon that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university would expand the pass/no pass option to classes that are not major requirements or pre-requisites for other classes. The change means that electives, all university core classes, and certain classes required by different schools may be taken pass/no pass. Typically, only electives may be taken pass/no pass.
This reflection is an account of photographer Molly Lowney’s experience at the Environmental Justice Immersion during spring break (March 1 to March 6) of 2020.