Editor’s note: All opinion pieces published in the Clerk represent only the views and ideas of the author.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 outbreak is greatly affecting college students across the United States. On March 11, 2020, President Raymond notified Haverford students and staff that the college would transition to virtual learning starting March 16. When I first received President Raymond’s email, I felt frustrated and discouraged. Negative thoughts raced through my mind: My school materials are 3,000 miles away where I left them. I may not be able to effectively learn from home. I may not see my friends for a month…or longer.
Over the subsequent days, college leaders were focused on making this transition possible for the students and professors. As a student from California, it would have been incredibly time-consuming and expensive to fly back to campus to pick up the notebooks I needed. I was lucky enough to have a friend at Haverford who was willing to ship me my materials, and a first-year dean who was willing to approve her request for dorm access. This was a great relief for me.
Of course, this transition has been no easy task for the professors. They had to learn about new technology and figure out ways to teach remote classes within a matter of a few days. Nonetheless, each of my four professors promptly sent out emails assuring their students that they were quickly working to determine how classes would proceed. Prior to this, I knew that my professors cared about their students. However, their responses to this difficult situation made their dedication to meeting the needs of their students even clearer to me.
My religion class has only seven students, not uncommon for Haverford. My professor for this course reached out to each of the seven students and asked to speak with us individually about how we may best revise the course to meet the students’ needs. My conversation with him was incredibly productive and reassuring. At what other school would a professor spend over 30 minutes talking to an individual student about their needs?
I had my first virtual class on March 17—Elementary Italian. I have to say that I was amazed that my professor could maintain a dynamic so similar to the one we experienced in an actual classroom setting. My interaction with my religion professor and my first class with my Italian professor eased my mind for how classes would proceed in the coming weeks. I am confident that each of my professors is committed to doing whatever is necessary for their students to succeed during this challenging period.
I also must say that President Raymond and Dean Denney have handled this unfortunate situation with such grace. President Raymond crafted a well-written and detailed email which included a glimmer of hope in such discouraging times. She clearly had put serious thought into how the college could best serve the community and its students. Also, Dean Denney assured students that the college would not let their financial burdens prevent them from obtaining the resources they need to be successful from home. Their actions were fitting with Haverford’s inclusive character.
The responses of my professors and the President and Dean of the college have been supportive and reassuring. I am grateful that these are the people in charge when something as terrifying and uncharted as the COVID-19 outbreak occurs.