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Upperclassmen beginning an anxious fall semester

Many upperclassmen are returning to Oxford for the fall semester, but with them come some lingering concerns about the price of online learning and anxiety about student health and safety.

Junior finance major Valerie Gniady plans to return to Oxford and live off-campus for the fall semester. A Chicago native, Gniady has opted for an all-online course load, even if in-person instruction resumes in September. She explains that upperclassmen are at a financial disadvantage, being unable to outsource upper-level courses at community colleges like some first-year and sophomore students are choosing to do.

“I wish that we were getting more money back,” Gniady said. “It’s kind of ridiculous that I have to pay so much money to go to an online school.”

Because of her choice to take all of her classes remotely, Gniady will be unable to use Miami’s facilities and participate in campus organizations but plans to use her down time for professional growth.

After failing to get an internship this summer due to the pandemic, Gniady hopes to secure one for summer 2021. 

Not all upperclassmen have opted for the remote learning plan. Senior English literature major Alyiah Cruz plans on doing phased-in learning, but she wishes that Miami had been more transparent with its plans from the beginning.

“I think they could have been a little more upfront,” Cruz said. “Their emails are so vague.”

Cruz is originally from Lorain County, Ohio, but spent her summer conducting research in Oxford. She is doubtful of the return to in-person classes any time soon, but she does believe the party scene uptown will be running rampant. 

“I definitely think the bars will open,” Cruz said, “They’ve already been closed for a long amount of time, so they will probably have to open, financially.”

Despite this likely outcome, Cruz says it would be wise for the bars to remain closed to contain the spread of the virus. She is also concerned with the partying habits of her peers.

“I definitely think it’s important to wear a mask and to social distance as much as possible,” Cruz said, “I don’t think everyone will take it as seriously.”

There are other students who share this weariness regarding the general student attitude toward wearing a mask. Junior dietetics and kinesiology major Emily Kahn has also opted to participate in Miami’s phased-in learning plan, but she has been anxious about contracting the coronavirus from the start.

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“I feel like, at the beginning of this, I was really scared,” Kahn said. “It took up a lot of my mental space.”

Kahn has been living at her home in Strongsville, Ohio, under strict social-distancing practices. Now, she is worried about the leniency of college-aged students when faced with wearing a mask and social distancing.

“I do have a lot of anxiety about COVID in respect to going back to campus,” Kahn said. “I don’t think that other college-aged people feel the same way.”

Kahn is a member of the sorority Alpha Delta Pi, and she explained that a lot of social events for the fall have already been canceled due to the pandemic.

“I think in the back of my mind, I always knew that it was going to be an abnormal semester,” Kahn said.

Kahn believes it's up to the individual college student to take precautions and protect themselves and others from the coronavirus pandemic. She said she’ll be doing everything she can to stay safe, including wearing a mask.

For senior marketing major Serena Lanum, graduation is looming, and she wonders what will come of the December and May ceremonies. 

“I’m assuming December [graduation] won’t have a ceremony or anything,” Lanum said. 

Lanum prioritizes the health and safety of both herself and her peers, and admits that she doesn't mind having a different graduation experience than usual.

“I think everyone needs to remember we’re slowly getting better,” Lanum said, “but we need our numbers to keep going down.”

Until those numbers are well and truly down, in-person graduation for the class of 2020 remains up in the air. Miami News and Communication’s Interim Director Carole Johnson said there are no released details for December or May graduation.

“The plans for December graduation are in the works,” Johnson said, “but I just don’t have any details yet.”

greanelj@miamioh.edu

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