Bearcats share their feelings on remote learning and a virtual commencement

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Marina Shemesh | Flickr

Amanda Salazar

As the summer semester is underway, Bearcats shared their feelings about the transition to distance learning for half of the Spring 2020 semester and all of the Summer 2020 semester.

Distance learning was first announced on March 11 by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said that within a week of his announcement that all CUNY and SUNY schools would begin schooling online.

The decision was made in an effort to keep students, staff, faculty and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had been quickly escalating in the state at that time.

CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodríguez then announced on the same day that all CUNY schools would go on an educational recess until March 19, the distance learning start-date imposed by the governor.

Essentially, this means that the majority of CUNY students haven’t been on campus since March 11, aside from those that went to their colleges on March 12 to take home their belongings left at school.

At Baruch College, students were permitted to enter the Newman Vertical Campus Building on March 12. The Club Suite and all other extracurricular rooms and offices, including the Media Suite which houses The Ticker, were closed and locked that same evening.

While the decision to have students transition to online schooling during the pandemic was meant to protect New Yorkers, and was supported by some students, not all CUNY students are happy with the way the rest of the semester turned out.

The Ticker asked Baruch students and alumni to share their thoughts on the past semester, the online summer semester, virtual commencement ceremony and on a potential online fall semester.

It is necessary to note that, as of press time, no official announcement has been made on whether or not the Fall 2020 semester will be remote or in-person.

Some Bearcats said that they understand why distance learning was necessary, such as University Student Senate Delegate Joel De La Cruz.

“I understand why we had to go into distance learning for half of the semester, it was the right decision considering precedents set by other schools. I am just happy we were able to complete our course work and receive credit for the semester,” he said. “But moving forward, classes should be in person. As more information comes in it seems that in-person courses should be possible for the smaller courses with less than 50 students in a course. Larger courses with hundreds of students may need to be limited in some way.”

This feeling was not unique among students. Accounting major Kevin Lupa shared similar feelings with The Ticker.

“Going online for the second half of the Spring semester was necessary even if it was inconvenient,” the sophomore said. “However, missing in-person classes for Fall 2020 will be extremely detrimental and cause irreversible damage to many students.”

Other students said that distance learning was harder, explaining that they missed their friends, professors and clubs, all of which were things remote schooling interfered with.

This is true for recent graduate Nicole Pung.

Pung, a former member of the Undergraduate Student Government, graduated on June 8 with a degree in marketing after spending half of her last semester at Baruch taking classes from home.

“It was the last time I would see some amazing people, and I didn’t even know it,” she said. “It was definitely a disappointment thinking this senior year wasn’t spent attending club events, goofing off with friends or living it to the fullest.”

She went on to say that there were some positives to the situation, like having the time to try new hobbies and spending more time with family. However, Pung added that the virtual graduation ceremony could not substitute an in-person one.

“For our virtual commencement, the Class of 2020 missed out on that last in-person interaction,” she said. “And yes, while we woke up early, heard inspirational speeches, and took some graduation photos, I know I spent time on Monday thinking about who I wished was there with me to celebrate this milestone.”

Other students also shared that they felt like they’ve missed out on a lot since Baruch went online.

“It’s really upsetting how my first year of college ended up being one semester in person and the second semester online,” rising sophomore and biology major Na Lin said. “Since I am taking science classes, during the spring online classes I’ve been watching YouTube videos on labs being performed. It’s better if everything is hands-on activities.”

There were also students who never even experienced a semester at Baruch who spoke to The Ticker about their thoughts on distance learning.

Incoming transfer student Justin Brander said that he believes in-person learning is better than online learning.

“Paying for college first and foremost means paying for an education,” the sophomore said. “However, it also means paying for an experience that distance learning simply cannot mimic. As an incoming transfer student for the fall, I’m anxious to become acclimated with Baruch student life and culture. I feel strongly that in person learning is also more beneficial to students than online learning.”

This opinion is not true for all students, however, such as for junior computer information systems major Alexandra Shyklo.

“I genuinely prefer classes being online,” she said. “It is easier to keep up with classes this way. However, I still do miss some of the in-person communication with professors and especially miss doing work in the library because I focus much better there.”

Overall, the feelings toward distance learning are relatively mixed. Bearcats will just have to wait and see if the next semester will be in an online format, too.