Students, faculty say shift in semester is needed; some feel sense of loss


Graphic by Maria Montero Silva

Students and faculty react to transition online

Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing News Editor

Utica College’s decision to transition all on-campus classes to online instruction have left some students feeling a sense of loss.

The decision was made on March 11, when UC President Laura Casamento sent an email to the UC community officially stating that beginning on March 23, the college will transition all on-campus, in-person classes to online instruction, with an anticipated return date of April 13, for all classes traditionally in-person, to be back in-person due to the Novel Coronavirus. 

All residence halls will be open during this duration, too. Prior, the study abroad program was suspended and all spring break activities have been cancelled. 

“I understand the uneasiness, frustration, and inconvenience this situation is causing,” Casamento said in a campus-wide memo. “Understand that this is a shared struggle. This is a very serious situation, and one that no community can dismiss or take lightly.”

The Tangerine spoke with a few students and one professor to see how this change has affected them. Two staff members who were asked as well, declined to comment.

Senior Sarah Herber was mad when she first heard the news, as she thought there was not going to be a graduation ceremony or the decision was going to impede graduation. 

However, shortly after she realized that this is an unprecedented situation.

“I don’t think their (the college’s) decision is too extreme,” Herber said. “I would think differently if the shutdown lasted the rest of the semester but given that it would hopefully be only a couple of weeks, I think it is fair considering the issue at hand.”

First-year student Cassandra White plans on going home, but the decision has her worrying about how things will plan out.

“I think the school had no choice to make that call,” White said.

Adjunct professor of psychology Dave Roberts was not surprised that this decision was made, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that SUNY and CUNY schools were switching to a distance learning environment effective March 19. Roberts was also appreciative of the consistent updates from Casamento.

Roberts has never taught an online class before, but has already received help in making the transition from Robert Miller, process manager for instructional technology at the Center for Innovative Learning on campus.

“As time progresses, I think the impact will become more apparent,” Roberts said. “I have emailed all of my students and told them that I will have a concrete plan in place to transition our classes to a full online format early next week.”

Roberts said he is confident that he can make the transition to an online format.

“I anticipate that other important campus gatherings will be as well, which means that students and student-athletes will be deprived of an essential part of their college experience this semester,” Roberts said. “I would think that this could lead to  much sadness and in some cases a profound sense of loss for those involved.”

Sophomore Robert Scocca also said the school made the right choice by choosing to move everything online, as it was a preventative measure to stifle the spread of the epidemic. 

He has also decided to stay on campus instead of going home to Long Island.

“As a cyber security student, I’m pretty lucky that most of my ‘labs’ are done in front of a computer anyways, Scocca said. “Moving all my classes online will not affect me that much but will certainly affect my pals in the nursing program or other majors that need a lot of hands-on work to pass their classes. I’m chilling though.”

Senior Dan Wilcox said he was lucky to have not been taking any classes that require a significant amount of practical instruction. 

He added that generally speaking, he would take the same precautions the college did.

“I know there was some slight backlash in terms of travel restrictions and access to campus, however I do agree,” Wilcox said. “Some students will naturally be disadvantaged and have harder decisions to make because of the location of their home while others will not, at least for now. The situation is evolving and I am quite sure that there will be changes to travel restrictions as the situation evolves.”

Wilcox said that given the constant media attention, there is too much improper comparison to diseases like the flu and other health conditions. He said that we should also be fact checking our sources. 

Wilcox added that he is also planning on staying on campus, even though he only lives 35 minutes away.

“I have three college-aged siblings, a little sister in a heavily populated elementary school and a mother who is a guidance counselor at another heavily populated elementary school and is constantly in and out of meetings with people from all over,” Wilcox said. “When I go home is when I come down with whatever is going around at the time. My safest place would be here, in my residence hall, with a small group of friends and with resources that provide me with little need to leave.”