College in the Coronavirus Era: Wistful Goodbyes and a Sense of Loss

“I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me,” said one Cornell University senior, as students left campus.

Comments: 138

  1. I would prefer for my kids in college to stay where they are. College students basically stick to hanging out with the same people all the time, and actually don't have too much exposure to things outside of their own little universes. Now they will all be set free around the country, increasing their risk of exposure.

  2. College students need to be with their families. The support staff at Universities need to be with their families, too. No one wants to be responsible for your child’s health during an epidemic if it can be avoided. This is a pandemic, not a dorm flu outbreak.

  3. @James Harvey Very good comment. I have 2 daughters in college. The undergraduate students are very healthy and need to learn and get their education. I don't understand why it is so imperative for them to be back with family so that they can sit home, do nothing and risk spreading disease among the wider population. Let them sit in classrooms with a little more distance between them and cancel fraternity parties. Also, are we getting refunds for lost classes, residence halls and dining services that we paid for?

  4. @aggrieved taxpayer Gosh, I don't know if you're getting refunds? Are the ER nurses who show up every day, heroically, getting refunds if they lose their lives? You're not the center of this universe right now and every American is or will be sustaining major financial losses without a plan or guarantee if how thise might be restored. Right now this country is in survival mode, not redemption cycle.

  5. I teach a full load at a small, Catholic university in San Antonio. I love my job, not the grading nor the ever-increasing need to master technology, but the sheer joy of seeing those familiar faces around me on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. I am feeling very real grief that they are gone. There will be other classes in the future, but these classes and this combination of students are gone. I miss them very much, and I feel a weird sense of guilt that I did not get to tell them goodbye, thank them for a great semester, wish them well in their next adventure. Yes, e-mail helps (a lot), but it is nothing like that classroom energy. I know that they are so sad and disoriented. One very bright man admitted that he doesn't even try to get up before 5 p.m. On the other hand, I have a job (that I love) that CAN be "moved online." I am very lucky. Many of my fellow San Antonians are not. I am thinking of them. I am wishing us all well.

  6. Many students are registered to vote in their college towns and not in their home tows . where will they vote now ?

  7. @gerry There's also absentee ballots, although who things about that once they leave town. More immediate are responses to the upcoming Census, where students are counted in the college towns where they reside, whether in off-campus housing or dorms.

  8. I can't help but think of 51 years ago this month when the Cornell campus was also closed for the rest of the semester. I was a freshman when a group of black students took over Willard Straight Hall, at that time the heart of the campus. A group of white Frat brothers tried to get in to evict them, the black students brought in guns, and it became a national story. My friends and I went up to Barton Hall, the cavernous gym, where rallies were held in support of the black students, as well as rallies against the Vietnam war. Such a different time. Instead of social distancing, it was social mass gathering as we slept on the floor for several days with hundreds of our classmates.

  9. @Will Rothfuss I remember it well. I was Class of 1971, and the country was undergoing another paroxysm due to the war. Half a century later, we're facing a disruption of an entirely different sort, but we'll get through it. My years on the Cornell campus were among the best of my life. I trekked up Libe Slope from Sperry Hall each morning of freshman year to attend classes; one morning it was -27° F! One thing that surprised me while looking at the photos in this article was the lack of snow. Times have changed!

  10. I teach at a community college where most students commute to campus. Nevertheless, telling them we were moving to “remote” instruction was devastating. A number of students told me they had chosen face to face instruction, not online classes. Some don’t have the materials to move online and are now hustling to make it work. Our campus is doing everything it can to support students and connect them to resources, but some won’t succeed. They will be lost in the shuffle, failing classes, or at worst, being pushed off their college trajectory for good. These students spent 8 weeks working to absorb and master content, build classroom communities, and pursue their goals and dreams. They too were building to something which has been cut short. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye.

  11. I can’t help but get a little cranky about privileged college students complaining about their experiences being “taken from them”. Many of the opportunities they have enjoyed throughout their lives are simply not available to a large percentage of the other human beings on this planet and never will be no matter how hard someone works. This crisis is effecting everybody. Some are losing their financial security, some are losing their jobs, and many are actually dying. In light of that I find it difficult to muster much sympathy for someone who might miss out on a two hour self-congratulatory graduation ceremony or a few nights at the old local watering hole. Working hard is something that is most rewarding simply for doing it, not for some promise of success at some arbitrary finish line. Maybe these students could take an online class in perspective and self-awareness during this quarantine period and experience some real education.

  12. @Matt Willams Matt, consider me your companion in crankiness. I've had to slam on the brakes in my car more times than I can recount for college students in my town walking into traffic, glued to cell phones. Yes, kids, there is actually a world of other people out here; your lives are comparatively lush. Time to spend some of your new spare time helping the truly destitute. Do it.

  13. @Matt Willams Having been at Cornell yesterday picking up my daughter, I can assure you that these "Privileged College Students" are fundamentally aware of the situation. That doesn't change the fact that they are disappointed that their lives are being disrupted in an abrupt fashion just as people all over the country are disappointed in the situation. They didn't write the article. They are also bright enough to be aware aware of the $ 2 million per week loss of revenue to the businesses in Ithaca and I heard comments about that from the students yesterday. In a City of that size, that is going to cause a significant hardship. The University is the largest employer in the area and the students generate the bulk of the revenue for the surrounding environs. There are also many students that can't leave and go home because they are from places where travel is currently banned. They understand that this was necessary, if only to protect their older professors. They have a great deal of empathy for the outside world and those less fortunate, many of them attending Cornell. It would be helpful if you also had some empathy.

  14. @Rich Now your daughter is home she can help some shut-in elders by doing their market shopping or by childcare for a suddenly unemployed parent out looking for another job. Comparison is also an excellent teacher. I'm disappointed that I likely will not be able to hug my adult children or even visit with them for months due to my age and their employment. So, you and your daughter are lucky.

  15. “I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me.” I'm sure it was not meant, but this phraseology evokes images of a privileged student having something taken away by some bad actor. Think of all the people affected globally, the kids that won't have school lunches, the people who can't work... The virus does not discriminate, and best if we all see it as an unfortunate situation we have to deal with.

  16. Phraseology? Privileged? Give him a break. I remember senior year (1980) and it is a real drag that college seniors have lost what they’ve lost. Every pain doesn’t need to be ranked. That in no way affects the greater losses from the pandemic.

  17. @Ben ~ Your analysis does not deny their right to say it. If not in a NYT article, hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people have expressed the same things about how the virus has affected their lives.

  18. @Ben If you paid for gasoline at the pump, but the pump is empty, and you can't get your money back, some things were stolen from you. Your money. And your ability to go anywhere. If you pay for something. Like an education, and all it was purported to deliver, and then it's not delivered, what is it. Those things were promised and paid for, but not delivered. It may be force majeure, but that doesn't mean it's not happening.

  19. Yes, there's a sense of loss for some but over time, each and every one of us will have far bigger hurdles to clear. While hard to see that in the moment, perspective is critical - let's not lose that view at this critical juncture.

  20. The most difficult aspect of this situation is going from total preoccupation and focus on managing a packed class schedule to sudden unplanned emptiness. One coping strategy is to find other ways of creating structure and staying busy, whether that's studying for board exams, volunteering with local epidemiology programs, or training for a half-marathon (or perhaps a marathon, depending on how long this lasts).

  21. @Mirœ All marathons and half marathons have been cancelled...or postponed until the fall, and who knows if that will happen. I graduated from Cornell and I cried at graduation because I did not ever want to leave there. I loved it and still do, and I do feel bad for these students having the world as they know it come to such an abrupt stop. My high school and grade school kids are going through the same thing. Yes, it could be so much worse, but we need to acknowledge what these young people are going through and help them cope. And I agree that running can be an excellent outlet, just don't want to encourage anyone to train for a half marathon that may well get cancelled too.

  22. @Mirœ Or actually helping someone who has lost a job and has kids to support. Kids suddenly at home because public schools are closed, and a parent trying to find work. These are life's authentic lessons. Oh, gosh, train for a marathon. Really, that's the best idea in all this world of hurt for so people? How about shopping for shut in elders? Entails exercise, zooming down market aisles, reaching for items, lifting packages, unloading. Almost as good as a marathon, but not so many public accolades.

  23. @HotGumption What not do both? Shop for elders and train for a marathon?

  24. As a parent of a college student and an employee of a college, I do not think that online instruction, especially when not prepared for by the faculty or chosen by the students, is in any way a suitable or acceptable substitute for on-campus, in person instruction. It was a good choice to send students home given the coronavirus situation, but the students should be given credit/grades for the work they have done thus far in the semester, and then tuition credit for the uncompleted portion of their semester, which could be used in the future, perhaps in special one-month-long residential summer sessions or two-week winter break sessions, after the coronavirus crisis has passed. This would require intensive logistical planning on the part of college/university administrations, no doubt, but it would be the right thing to do.

  25. @MHB I disagree. Finishing one-half of a semester via remote instruction will be less disruptive of their lives than having a half-semester of credit for five or six classes. Most current college age students have submitted at least some assignments online over the last five years, and they are tech savvy and digital natives. They will pick up whatever skills they need. Online instruction is admittedly not as rich as in-person discussion and instruction, but most students will be able to finish up the semester just fine via remote instruction.

  26. My daughter is a senior at a public university that is all but closed, even though it is required to keep its cafeterias open to serve meals for those who cannot depart for home. It is possible, but no decision has been made, to cancel commencement, scheduled for early May. In other words, no cap and gown, no dull commencement speech, no procession of newly minted graduates, no faculty in multi-hued academic garb. Well, you can say, no big deal. But as it was for millions of people, graduation is a rite of passage for young adults (those fortunate to have gone to college) like my daughter, who has worked and studied as hard as she can to pursue a double major in an extraordinarily difficult field of study. She will survive not experiencing commencement, and she realizes the need for it to be canceled. But it will hurt, nonetheless, like completing a marathon but tripping and falling down 100 feet from the finish line.

  27. @PaulB67 I don't accept your analogy. It's more like completing a marathon with no crowd cheering you at the finish line. You still take great pride in finishing. I wish all the best for your daughter.

  28. @PaulB67 : Commencement can be re-scheduled.

  29. @PaulB67 Congratulations to your daughter for her achievement which does not depend on a crowd to validate. Why not plan a celebratory party in her honor down the road a bit?

  30. Hummmmmm.................... A party versus your life. Or your grandma's life. Or any of your relatives lives. This is the time for young US Citizens to grow up. Much is going to be expected of you over the next few years. Yes, YEARS.

  31. “I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me.” I'm not sympathetic to this. It's not about you at all.

  32. @Mark AS a Cornell alum, I couldn't disagree more - something very special was stolen from them and something they can never get back.

  33. Because you went to Cornell too. I think I get it now.

  34. This article smacked of privilege. Really?! “So many experiences have been stolen” from you? This article sounds whiny, hard to believe that adults are complaining when we’re faced with a national situation such as this. But then again, a lot of these college students have had an extended childhood such as never before seen in the history of humanity so I guess I should not be surprised. What surprises me is the lack of awareness, empathy for others in much worse situations throughout the country (and the world). This lack of awareness does not bode well for future generations. Get it together youngsters.

  35. So sorry for millennials who are missing out on experiences. Do they know that people are dying? And will likely continue to do so, in increasing numbers. Did they learn anything in college? They should all go volunteer and help the elderly... (washing their hands first, of course)

  36. Not Millennials at this point; they’ve largely graduated. These students are part of Gen Z.

  37. They’re not millennials.

  38. "I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me." Oh, for heaven's sake. This is a worldwide crisis. Thousands of people have died, and hundreds of thousands more - maybe many millions - will. Whining about your "stolen experiences" is unseemly. Read Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" for some perspective. At the outset of World War I she was outraged that the war forestalled her long-held dream of attending Oxford. With the deaths in combat of her brother, her fiance', and several close friends she volunteered as a nurse for the duration of the conflict. After the Armistice she did enroll at Oxford, but found the experience empty. The war had changed her irrevocably; she became a life-long pacifist and campaigner for peace - even through the Second World War, when she was reviled for her stance. The "confusion and pain" of the Cornell seniors will wear off once reality sets in.

  39. You mean, once they are thrown out of safe environments and sent home to places where the pandemic is making people sick and infecting and killing many? You're cheery-picking and picking on a quote that was headlines, but was taken out of context. Those kids you disdain are young adults who have a greater sense of responsibility for the planet and for others than those who condescendingly attack them!

  40. Olenska: Just stop with absurd false equivalencies-compassion and not lecturing goes along way.

  41. @Olenska My sentiment as well when I read the 'stolen experiences' quote. Breathtaking self absorption.

  42. Young people need to learn about being part of a community and contributing toward its well being. This means sacrifice, at times. We have lost this sense of community in this country.

  43. Tan, re-read the story! It's the very loss of community that they are concerned with. The students quoted are thoughtful, reflective, and concerned about the larger community. We need to avoid patronizing attitudes towards students — many, if not most, are far more concerned about the general welfare, economic insecurity, the lack of health care, global crises, and saving the planet's environment and habitability. This was a rushed, poorly thought out decision by the university and it will endanger many. See “Why shutting down colleges only shifts the coronavirus burden onto others” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/11/they-shut-down-our-college-because-coronavirus-will-that-help/

  44. Just stop!

  45. I work and teach part time at a university, and our Educational Technology Office mobilized overnight to create and offer workshops to assist faculty in teaching online. In two days, nearly 100 participated, including many who'd never taught online. They will use part of the spring break to work out a plan to deliver quality instruction to students online if we do not return to campus. In short, everyone should focus on how we are responding to an unprecedented development and rose to the occasion. As i tell my students, don't tell me what you can't do; tell me what you are going to do. We may as well use our energy to move forward.

  46. @Chris That's great, but I think students should at least be given the choice to take partial credit/receive a grade for the work they've done thus far in the semester, and receive a tuition credit/refund for the remaining weeks, if they are not in a situation where they can effectively learn online. Only students can know that about themselves; faculty cannot decide that for them. As an analogy, the Metropolitan Opera has cancelled performances, but they're not offering ticket-holders a credit to watch the MET Live in HD at some future date; they're issuing refunds or credits toward live performances in the future. Colleges/universities should be doing the same.

  47. @MHB Your comparison to the Met is not accurate. College students who paid tuition are simply not analogous to ticket holders for many reasons, among which are: students paid for an education which requires them to participate in that education , not just be a passive butt in a seat. The learning effort eventually results in a degree, which in turn, often results in better job prospects. Ticket holders , by contrast, paid for an artistic experience that requires nothing more of them than being a passive receptacle to that experience.

  48. @Lynn WILSON All the more reason, then, for universities/colleges to offer partial credit and partial tuition refunds to students who want them, instead of giving them no choice but to accept online instruction. Shouldn't we be MORE conscientious about our actions when the stakes are higher? And I agree that the stakes are higher in losing part of a college education, than they are in losing a one-time artistic experience.

  49. This is a teaching moment: that it is not about us individually, it is about what is best for our community. We've lived in this Country far too long focusing on the Me instead of the We. I hope college students, and all of us, have a renewed sense of commitment to others as one of the silver linings from this very unnerving episode in World history.

  50. @Diane Agreed. I wish someone would think I've lost an experience, rather than it was stolen from me.

  51. @JMB I think they have gained an experience: that we all must contribute to the collective good, that that means sacrifice at times. Everyone is having to sacrifice now. And I hope we come out of this with a sense of belonging to something important that is greater than ourselves.

  52. Yes, we all have to chip in and put community first. But to not appreciate what these students are going through is unkind. Their loss is real. They are being asked to do something that has probably only been asked of in wartime. So, their sacrifices merit kindness not derision. Moreover, many students have no supportive family, no home, no money or all of the above, and I feel heartbroken for them.

  53. These kids need to understand the concept of an emergency. I am a boomer, born in 1943 and have seen and survived many emergencies, the loss of a couple of months social activity is a price that is easy to pay.

  54. @Jock Boomers were born starting in 1946. You're a member of the Silent Generation.

  55. @Greenie Thanks Greenie, I always wondered about being a boomer!!!!!!

  56. LOL you are not a baby boomer!

  57. I have a son graduating this semester. Aside from the emotional aspects, there is a very real economic worry. Many of these students were looking for jobs and relying on their career centers for help and guidance. All of this has been disrupted. And they are looking at an economy that's in shambles.

  58. So many of the comments here are mean-spirited and directed at the students who feel loss in this moment. I find it frustrating because I am not a privileged child who continues to party despite confirmed cases in the area, yet I feel the same frustration and despondence. I was supposed to defend my PhD in two weeks. Defense are usually celebratory, supportive affairs where your friends bake treats and everyone attends to hear about the work you've spent the last five years completing. I've been to at least thirty, and was sincerely looking forward to my own. Now I'll be doing it alone, via webcam, from my living room. And assuming I successfully defend, I won't get to participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony either, as it's most likely canceled along with all the other commencement activities. Twelve years of post-graduate education for the final moments to evaporate nearly overnight. The feeling of loss is real, because we are losing something, even though most of us know and understand that it's for the greater good in this moment. Let us process and "mourn", if you will, without your judgement, please. We'll be doing that alone in our living rooms as well.

  59. @Georgina Absolutely. You and so many other students have worked hard toward this culmination, and this is very disappointing for you. I wish other people could understand that it's possible to see the big picture and empathize with people who have it worse, while still feeling sad about your own situation.

  60. @Georgina, why not plan a celebration down the road a bit to celebrate your achievement?

  61. @Georgina Appreciate the sentiment......a war did the same to me. But remember you earned the celebration and most institutions will let you receive the diploma at a future graduation. In my case I finally managed the time 40 years later, accompanied by a rather substantial familial entourage. Missed the drama and satisfaction the first time but had my own cheering section the second. Go out and do great things and be the architect of your own tribute.

  62. Thank you for introducing those who don’t know it to ‘Testament of Youth.’ I do feel for the college seniors (high school seniors, as well) for their disappointment; but in the larger picture, it’s a surmountable disappointment.

  63. This was meant as a reply to commenter ‘Olenska’ in New England. I apologize for the placement.

  64. @itsmildeyes bless you. Right on.

  65. We can all take a couple of minutes to mourn the loss of our daily routines. We will take a lot of time to figure out loss of income and think about what lies ahead. That’s turning inward, and It’s healthy to do so. However, if we had a half decent president, he or she could rally us together and, as Americans and citizens of the world, sacrifice and unite to combat this threat. It’s a war. That’s turning outward, for the common good.

  66. To the seniors who miss out on the special day that is graduation: From difficult and horrible times come opportunities to do things that one never thought about, never imagined, never existed, or never could even have been imagined. What a great time to be educated, young with a chance to help. To be realistic, Coronavirus is the first of at least two blows nature is sending; the other is climate change. Another virus will again come from China--or Africa. It a matter of when, not if. America's health care system is likely to change for the better after this, since I suspect many will fight not to have such a patchwork mess that we have both for public health and for insurance. Perhaps getting used to fewer carbon emissions through huge change in transportation will dramatically change our mobility and offer solutions that heretofore have been blocked. I wouldn't rule it out. I won't live to see either to fruition, but I will certainly grab every opportunity to help that I can. I'm an old guy, retired doc, who volunteers tutoring math and clearing Cascade trails. All hands on deck? Aye, aye, Cap'n. Reporting for duty.

  67. I do feel badly for students everywhere. It’s not as if we older adults have real solutions for them, so they must feel just as we do - whom do you turn to to solve the myriad problems arising from managing this pandemic? I’m wondering, as many students are, why the response from the Trump Administration was so bungled - and continues to be. Sadly, the answer is simple - it’s clear Mr. Trump prioritizes his re-election over telling Americans the truth. Students see this too and understandably lose faith in those trusted to do the right thing. There are no easy answers but if we don’t learn any lessons from this - both about the character and smarts of those we elect and the integrity of our crises responses - then shame on us. Students - please stay safe and vote in November

  68. After reading some of these comments that attack the students for their privilege, I guess if my beloved pet dies I shouldn't be sad, because, you know, there are people dying. This remains an awful ordeal and loss for young people that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

  69. These students, too young to remember 9/11 as a direct experience, have never lived through a Pearl Harbor moment. It's scary and it's relatively sudden. They've gotten a wallop. And human beings, stunned by some traumatic incident and taking inventory of the world, understandably first ask how they have been affected as individuals. Over time, though, today's disappointment will almost certainly take its place in the life narratives that will be told and retold as something that was faced and surmounted.

  70. In the scheme of things, with an ongoing pandemic, it sounds like typical young people entitlement. But I remember my college days, and I feel for them.

  71. This article seems kind of unnecessary when people are losing their incomes and the elderly are confined to their homes without visitors. I realize this is a big blow to college students everywhere, but they'll survive and, most likely, stay healthy. Many others will have far worse struggles.

  72. @sharong I think it is very good for the NY Times to print these stories. We need to understand these perspectives and then educate people that this is a time for sacrifice and concern for the greater community. Their colleges and curriculum will be there when the virus is gone. But other people's lives are in the balance.

  73. To be sure, this is a national emergency. I understand that university seniors are sad to miss out on some highly-anticipated good times, but this generation, exempt from drafts, assisted by tech tools at every turn, really is sounding very sorry for itself in these sorts of stories. Your country needs you. You are hopefully well- trained and ready to take on the job of solving the ever-changing problems of life on earth. And most of your last semester is less work, more party and an increasing sense of impatience to get out into the real world, so you will not miss as much as you think you will.

  74. 9/11 happened my senior year at the United States Air Force Academy. Suddenly we lost all privileges to leave base for 3-4 weeks and knew we had become a war time class. My point is, things beyond your control will happen during your lifetime. Try not to view them through a self-centric lens.

  75. @David - thank you for your service.

  76. There is something about the idea of 'bright college years' that lives on among those who attend prestigious colleges on beautiful campuses. But these young people will thrive anyway, and this interruption of a beautiful spring above Lake Cayuga will fade, as they go on to high achievement and rich lives. Not so when the typical community college closes out of the same precaution.

  77. For those of you posting comments critical of the students' reactions: why are your feelings about the situation legitimate but the students' feelings aren't? We are all processing the sudden changes to our daily lives in different ways. Just because you have apparently immediately adjusted to the new normal doesn't mean everyone else has. And I'm sure as a 21-year-old, whether in college or not, you yourself met this standard you are holding them to of always thinking of others and your part in the world versus mostly about yourself? Highly doubtful.

  78. “The administration really did struggle with this extremely important decision,” Ryan Lombardi, the vice president for student and campus life, said in a hasty phone interview between meetings on Wednesday. “It wasn’t a decision we were pondering for weeks or even a lot of days.” Hope he reads what he said and realizes how bad that sounds! Like other colleges and universities, it sounds like this was a quick, even rash, decision, and one done without input from those most affected — the students! I highly recommend the insightful, nuanced, and smart take on these shutdowns penned by two Amherst sophomores: “Why shutting down colleges only shifts the coronavirus burden onto others” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/11/they-shut-down-our-college-because-coronavirus-will-that-help/ They described it as an “eviction” and one done without sufficient thought, planning, and input.

  79. Grown-upping is soooo very hard! You mean the universe does not revolve around me?

  80. That poor Ivy League student.

  81. “Some experiences have been stolen from me?” Why not think “I’m going to miss some things”? You will have experiences - they just won’t be what you expected. They will be different from other, more normal years, which could be really interesting, but why immediately jump to an attitude of “I’ve been robbed?” Things happen, this is life!

  82. Are the dorm fees being refunded.

  83. Yep, all about "me". No surprise.

  84. I don't want to negate your pain over this by comparing it to other events young people have had to go through but consider those who were in college at the time of the Holocaust or a major war. Their whole lives were upended. Many had to go to fight in the war. Many didn't survive. You will move on from this stronger. It will be a memorable end to your senior year for those who are seniors. There will be much that needs doing to make our country(and world) right again. Please put your smarts and youthful energy to work helping us heal when this is all done.

  85. Far above Cayuga’s water, there’s great sadness and anxiety. I wish everyone health and safety.

  86. Here, in Vermont, at Middlebury, college kids who were told to go home - and Middlebury is a bastion of preppy privilege - got drunk and went around vandalizing the school grounds a few days ago! Really? Parents and schools, please do a better job at giving your children moral instruction, teaching them kindness, taking care of others. This is not about poor them, it is about public health, it is about everyone else, it is about community. Their drunken behavior is also the very opposite of the Vermont way, as here, for the most part, people are very kind, and we really do look out for each other. We have entered extraordinary times, we all need to step it up. Call your family, call your neighbors, see who needs food (delivered outside), who needs financial help, and, most of all, stop gathering, as that is oddly the very best thing we can all do for each other right now. Stop spreading the virus, stay home, really stay home, if you can (that if is about work, not about preferences).

  87. I would have liked the reporter to get a comment from the administration regarding the changing of plans over 48 hours. The changeover to canceling clases for 3 weeks is NOT what other schools are doing. Most schools are immediatelty transitioning to online learning in a matter of a few days. The consequences of canceling 2 weeks of instruction will be borne out by another after 5 pm notice from president pollack stating that the academic calendar is being revised to lengthen the school year by 2 weeks. This will automatically cancel commencement activities. Cornell could have started online instruction on 3/23, cancelled spring break and still kept open the original commencement exercises. Some parents have paid thousands of dollars in non refundble hotel rooms in the ithaca area. As far as the young man who feels he has been "robbed" of these experiences, Cornell did not create the coronavirus but it surely has not reacted thoughtfully in a crisis. This is a valuable lesson on decision making and what not to do

  88. Thanks for this perspective, one of the many ‘human sides’ of this virus. I know there are worse problems but there’s such a poignancy in the stories here..especially the loss for the Seniors of their final spring, graduation, possibly on campus interviews, couples breaking up, being thrown into the reality of life from college life even a few months earlier feels unfair.

  89. I have vivid memories of those final days before and after my graduation. I completed my requirements during a very relaxed summer session where my focus was more on my tennis game than academics. My tennis partner and I took turns beating each other which made the summer's competition infinitely more interesting. Then came the Last Day. Both of us had graduated and were preparing to leave the campus for real life. We played our last match to a de facto draw, then proceeded to University of Maryland's infamous watering hole; The Rendezvous (aka the Vous). We started drinking in the late afternoon and continued late into the night. The evening was filled with congratulations tempered with commiserations. Why do we need to leave when we finally understood both games; i.e., academics and tennis? We looked at the incoming freshman experiencing their first legal beers away from home (legal age was 18 at the time). We laughed at their collective inexperience and drunken foibles, then observed that that was us not that long ago. Now we had to go forward into the real world with both trepidation and hope. We ran out of cash, finished our beers, and walked out of the Vous into the night. He turned, shook my hand and said, "Have a good life". Then it really sunk in that this was our last goodby. We walked away from each other never to meet or speak again. I'll never forget that hollow feeling of parting after our wonderful summer of academics, tennis, and beer.

  90. Yes, experiences will be lost. Most of those experiences will be trivial ones; "Spring Weekend" concerts and dances, graduation rituals, going out with friends. But what will be gained are other, deeper experience; trial, hardship, having to be creative and flexible to make life work out, changing expectations, reconnecting with family and friends, building new relationships and skills necessary for survial, adapting a new perspective on life. These experiences might be hard, and they will be harder for some than others, but they will be nothing worse than people in most other generations and in many other parts of the world have had to go through to become adults. Hopefully, young people will allow these experiences to help them build solidarity with both the many generations before them and the people around the world who have suffered tribulation outside of their control. And hopefully they will allow these experiences to strengthen their character. Maybe that sounds harsh, but welcome to humanity, kids. The party is over. Hopefully you will be able to find the light in this, and someday it won't be such a big deal, and with pride you will tell your grandkids (I hope you are blessed with grandkids) how you made do through the Pandemic back in 2020.

  91. let's not be little one another. Everyone has some pain coming. I have lost a few thousand dollars in my 401k and all I can think about is how much did the person who had twice as much lose. If I am sad they must be depressed.

  92. I am a Cornell senior who has decided to stay in Ithaca, but not all of us who have made that choice (if we had a choice) are congregating or even partying...though idiotically, some are or have been. My two friends and I are isolated in our apartment. We only leave for groceries, brief walks, and for one of us, an essential animal care job. But we rather stay in Ithaca together, than (a) potentially spread virus to our families or (b) potentially pick it up traveling home via airports and buses. Meanwhile, the fraternity outside my window was partying all day yesterday, blasting music so loud that it was hard to read... I will also say that like many people, my reaction to the closures has evolved over the last week. On Tuesday, my first reaction was "that's extreme!" By Wednesday, I was starting to think it was reasonable. By Saturday, I was in "cancel everything" mode.... I am also working through the loss of my graduation and end of senior year events - I can envision those events so clearly in my mind's eye, but now they will only exist there. I can feel that loss without denying that many people out there have it much worse or that it was the right decision to close the university.

  93. @KC Thank you for your perspective. I hope your comment gets enough likes to be pushed to the top. Everyone is experiencing their own changes and losses in their lives and processes that grief in different ways. These posters who are bashing college students need to check their own privilege and just calm down.

  94. @KC Very thoughtful post.

  95. @KC Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective and for yours and your roommates responsible behavior.

  96. Setting aside the issue of whether or not the sentiments of this particular group reflect privilege, as a reader, I find this article to be unnecessary, and believe that it should not have been published at this time. People all over the world have suffered losses large and small - indeed, that is something we have in common. During this time, the focus of media outlets should be on providing us all with accurate, timely information. This would be a good time to limit the handwringing and editorializing that has become all too common in this era.

  97. Hopefully this experience will not be frequent or repeated. But for the students the Covid-19 experience we are living cannot be artificially simulated. In the years to come they will remember how terrified the country was rather than a social party on some campus.

  98. Better to be inconvenienced but alive!

  99. Several million baby boomers can empathize with the statement; “I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me,” as we were drafted or elected to serve in order to avoid conscription. In my case it wasn’t in March but in April when I was ordered to leave graduate school and report to Ft. Dix for basic training. I did have a lot of experiences stolen from me, but I got to learn how to jump out of planes and kill people in exchange. My message is there are others who understand being asked to sacrifice for the good of society. Life is unfair, but the unfairness of missing a few months of springtime on campus could be worse, and the impact on the rest of your lives will be far less. You will be fine; find something to do that is productive and serves your community. Spend your time wisely; be thankful you are not being asked to go to war against your will.

  100. @Paul Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

  101. @Paul - thank you for your service.

  102. @Paul Bravo Paul and thank you for your service. While so many are deriding us, they have no idea what others like you have suffered. Bless you.

  103. It's very selfish to use a word like "stolen". This is an extraordinary situation. Cornell has not done its job if their students don't know about the 1918 Spanish Flu and other epidemics of modern times. If there's any theft occurring, it's the collection or rentention of face-to-face tuition rates for an online college experience!

  104. Yeah. Let's take a moment to think of the WW2 generation or Vietnam for that matter, who were asked to go overseas into a meat grinder during the prime of their youth. You're being asked to stay at home and watch Netflix for a few weeks.

  105. @Mark I think this is a good analogy. Why can't you see it.

  106. "I", "I", "I". It's not about you and there was no intent to single anyone out. It's a national crisis that affects everybody and a lot of people are going to be a lot worse off than you are by missing some classes and tossing your frisbees. "These last months are everything to you"? That's as good an indication as any of how protected these kids have been their entire lives and how unprepared they are for life in the real world where, you know, things happen. Sorry.

  107. @Lou Good I disagree. We are creating a horrible world for our youth. This crisis was avoidable and could have been manageable. Blame yourself because you are part of the problem. You aren't the future. These young people are and it it time for the "boomers" to take responsibility. I think the youth are entitled to their sadness. They aren't stupid. And this is not going to be a couple weeks watching netflix. We are entering a recession. So that means no jobs. A lot has been stolen from these kids.

  108. Nothing’s been stolen from anyone and there’s a world of difference between disappointment and despair. To put lives at risk for the privilege of avoiding the “personal losses that come with leaving college early”, “being torn from friends and budding romances” and “missing out on graduation rituals” is self-centered and shallow. Perhaps the most valuable lesson these students could learn during their college years is a sense of perspective.

  109. I feel for them, however all of us must sacrifice our current ways of life to protect one another. #flattenthecurve

  110. Nothing was "stolen" from you....

  111. @Thomas He said that is what it felt like! Why are there so many angry men who have no empathy for our youth. We really need women to lead. Guess what, no one of any age in this country has dealt with a crisis like this. And I say that as a recent cancer survivor. This is worse. I feel very sorry for all our children. We are leaving them a complete mess. Vote blue. There is a reason why such problems always happen on the republican watch. If we hadn't played the game of "trade war" with China and others, I think there would have been more cooperation and better solutions earlier. Enemies do not collaborate well.

  112. @Uofcenglish : No one of any age in this country has dealt with a crisis like this before? Consider the AIDS epidemic. In some communities - San Francisco and New York, for instance - it was much like what I believe COVID-19 will become: a disease arises suddenly for which there is no cure and against which affected populations have no immunity cutting a sudden, wide swath. Within months, hundreds of friends and neighbors disappear; politicians dither and fail to take appropriate steps; there is panic and mourning and rage. Those of us who remember those days shudder; we have seen this. However, this time there won’t be the endless memorial services and big demonstrations to demand action - too risky to be out with others. But the fear? It’s here already.

  113. I don’t agree with the mean comments and vitriol directed toward our youth here. They are missing out - stop trivializing it. How does sympathizing with their situation take anything away from you? We should also sing the praises of the university staff nationwide and how they’re trying so very hard to make this work for the kids. My daughter is an MBA student at the Darden School of Business at University of Virginia. She has become close to one of the business school admissions staff during her time there since August. This morning, this lovely woman took it upon herself to jump through hoops to gain entry to my daughter’s apartment there in order to extract her computer and ship it to her here in California so she’s good to go with online classes next Monday. I can only imagine the insanity that it must be to go from the usual university set up to the new coronavirus set up and I am eternally grateful to these people. My daughter enjoyed the socializing and partying as much as any grad or undergrad and as a grad student considered it her last hurrah in the college life format. She’s home with us now and isolated - not for a minute would she consider blithely continuing on with that socializing and though extremely sad and disappointed, sees the bigger picture and is more concerned about the well-being of her two 60-something parents.

  114. Dear youngin's - this time will pass. It will pass. You are the most indulged of generations (really, even the poor among you), it's good to get in 'real life experiences' and gain the wisdom you need to survive when you're younger than older. I think the reset button brought to us by the coronavirus, in the grand scheme of things (which at least that one interviewed student managed), is good for many, particularly the over indulged who don't appreciate what they have yet. Good luck in the real world.

  115. Having been a student at Boston University when the Kent State shootings occurred in May 1970, and receiving notice that B.U. was then closing and students had to be off campus and out of dorms within 24 hours . . . . . Well, it's an abrupt change and transition for students. I sympathize with how students may be feeling as they see their lives unexpectedly changing overnight. But these are difficult times, and they will hopefully soon adjust. Fortunately, as I see with my grandchildren, social media helps them keep in touch through social media. I wish everyone well!

  116. College is definitely about learning, but also character building. I am a teacher and stuck at home for the next two weeks. I worry about my 8th graders, as most rely on school for meals, but with steady online classwork, we will all learn how to keep rolling through these character building times. College is just another step in your journey. Remember, all you get is a piece of paper at the end, and at my graduation from ASU? They mailed it to me six weeks later.

  117. As an educator, I feel I'm selling the students short. And it isn't clear if the administrators are working in the sole interests of the students and faculty or to limit liability.

  118. I understand their feelings. The choice of words is regrettable. Nothing has been stolen from them, unless they believe the virus is some kind of Dementor escaped from Hogwarts. Their graduations will proceed in an altogether different manner, as will the PhD defenses. Instead of joyous celebration, they will learn maturity in the face of disappointment. Not a bad thing to know. At the lower end of education, my granddaughter in kindergarten had her party at Chuck E. Cheese cancelled. Her mother called it a 'heartbreaking' situation. Hard not to roll your eyes.

  119. Do people treat there own kids this way when they suffer a loss? Most parents will sympathize if their kids lose anything, from lost earrings to casual relationships. But I remember that age, not an adult yet even though I was married with a child. I didn't have the perspective or wisdom of an older adult yet because I wasn't an adult who had suffered grievous losses or surmounted great challenges yet. At a young age all losses feel great, and this is a very big deal to them. Everyone is stressed and anxious. We should strive even harder to be kind to each other.

  120. @Jrb - Actually it's the coddling and over-validation of our kids that has made them weak and easily offended or hurt. THAT is why kids feel losses greater, not because they are kids. If you tell a kid who falls and skins their knee "get up an shake it off" it makes them stronger than if you jump down comfort them and carry them off the field. I grew up in an age where parents didn't coddle their kids. In fact, they didn't know most of the stuff we got into because we were out running around w/ friends most of the day getting into all sorts of trouble, BUT we were learning how to be resourceful, independent and solutions oriented. If we fought w/ our friends, we learned how to make up and handle it on our own instead of our parents meeting w/ each other to hash out problems for us. Your are right that a widsom needs to be learned... best way to do it is to start young.

  121. @KR I learned everything the hard way also, KR. I've also learned that kind of upbringing and hardship creates different kinds of adults. Some become compassionate adults who learned empathy from their struggles and hardships, and don't want their kids to suffer any setbacks at all. Some become hardened and believe everyone should suffer as they did, swimming should be taught by throwing a child in the lake, and people don't deserve a living wage because they worked for low wages themselves. In the middle of those extremes are the average parents who are trying to soften the onslaughts of life a bit, while still giving their kids the freedom to experience life as it is. If my strong, independent middle-aged 'kids' suffers a disappointment, I express genuine understanding and empathy to them, as I do to my grandchildren, my neighbors and my friends.

  122. I'm a senior at MIT. Last Tuesday, we were told to pack up everything and leave campus within seven days. It hit hard. People immediately got together that evening for a night of seeing people, spending time with each other. We too had 20 people packed in one room, and similar gatherings for several nights in a row. No amount of hanging out could make up for the final spring weeks lost. On Wednesday morning, the day the track team was scheduled to leave for nationals, the team got word that the meet was cancelled. This hit harder than anything previous, because of the immediacy. A friend of mine, a senior, spent four years training hard and finally qualified for nationals this year in the high jump. Now that is gone. No meet, and no outdoor season either. It is crushing. On Thursday night, MIT sent out an emergency alert: due to the situation growing in seriousness, students were now required to move out by Sunday night. Mayhem hit. The halls of dorms were willed with panic, anxiety, and adrenaline. For the last couple days, the desire to spend precious time together was mixed with this frantic energy to pack and leave. Now everybody is home. Online classes begin in two weeks. The chaos that enveloped the MIT world is now just one facet of this nationwide and global disruption. What just happened and what is going on?

  123. Some of us didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I'm a junior at Ohio University, and I was on spring break tour with my collegiate men's choir. On Tuesday, the University made the decision to move classes online for two weeks. On Thursday, we were told that we had to come back to Athens with just two days left in our tour. The following day, as I was driving back to Iowa, the University decided to move all classes online for the rest of the semester. I don't know the next time I'll get to see my friends who are seniors and graduating. I understand this is the right thing to do for global health, but it's still emotionally taxing.

  124. Having just come back from Ithaca, former Cornell Alumni it was a eary sight on campus, yet college town was humming Saturday night with students eating sushi, or drinking. Ithaca is removed in many ways with those of us which frequent the city, art, a strong music scene, saw Graham Nash last weekend, as well as great hiking and wine trail. it is however, very sad for students who may not have a place to go to, either because they are from countries they can't get to, from homes without adequate support systems and many other reasons. Will there be graduating, reunion, we don't know. Additionally the financial impact to Ithaca and Tompkins county will be enormous without students frequenting the many fine restaurants and shops. Cornell is fortunate that it has a robust webcasting infrastructure and conferencing as it already communicats with it's campus on Roosevelt island. Be strong and stay safe Big Red!

  125. Selfishness versus Selflessness 101, it defines who we are and how we will live our lives. Consider this just one of many tests you will be given throughout your life. Its not about anger or pity, or sympathy , but finding truth and wisdom.

  126. There was the "Greatest Generation". This generation is "Most-Selfish". And, I thought Baby Boomers were obnoxious.

  127. In the overall scale of things, missing the last semester of a college year is minor. Think of the time (and lives) lost by the Greatest Generation. Think of the world they grew up in and moved into: the Great Depression to the horrors of WWII. We have raised a generation that has had every way paved for them and their "fragile" self esteems catered to. In South Boston, young adults were flocking to the bars to socialize . . . . NO! Like vaccines - unless everyone participates in the social distancing, it doesn't work. It isn't about "you" it is about the at risk part of the population. Stop the whining and grow up! Life is full of disappointment and challenges. Rolling up one's sleeves, sacrificing, and doing some heavy lifting is what is required and it might even brighten everyone's day! We were so fortunate to have had Obama in 2008. He put policies in place (while 800K/month were losing their jobs for months!!!) that kept us from the brink of a total economic implosion. Now we are seeing what happens when the dangerously incompetent are at the helm. And, this time it could literally kill us! Although there is a limit on social interaction, there are still many things everyone can do to mitigate the trauma for their communities. Unlike in other times there is a huge social network system for communication and mobilization.

  128. “I feel like a lot of experiences have been stolen from me.” I wonder if the members of the greatest generation, who stormed the beaches of Normandy, ever had such a deep sense of entitlement and self pity. I doubt it

  129. Reading through these comments, I finally understand why the kids say “ok boomer”...

  130. @Sarah Why? Because people are objecting to the self pity and sense of entitlement? Because they point to the sacrifices made by previous generations such as our elders who fought in WW2?

  131. How is it entitled to express disappointment that an incredible educational experience (that many of these students took out loans for) has been cut short? So millennials are not allowed to be upset (or as you describe it, feel “self pity”) about any situation ever because anything that happens to them pales in the face of what the older generations went through? I agree with constructive comments advising these students to look at the grand scheme of things, to contextualize their experiences, to practice gratitude. What I don’t agree with is minimizing students’ experiences as entitlement and self pity just because they aren’t as difficult as what older generations went through. Why do the generations have to be pitted against each other? Shouldn’t it be celebrated that today’s young have it better now? Sure, in the grand scheme of things missing the last semester of college may seem minor. This article is just expressing how these students feel right now. None of these students said that their experiences were worse than those of boomers. I just don’t understand why that comparison has to be made, and why some of the people in these comments have so much animosity towards today’s youth.

  132. Excellent response. I feel for these kids.

  133. The gift of four years of doing what one pleases-as long as a modicum amount of study is a part of that deal, is a gift no one, let alone an adult between the ages of 18 and 22, should ever, under any circumstances, feel entitled to. No student should feel that a curtailed senior year in a time of national crisis is something that is stolen from them; they, as presumably intelligent young adults, should have been aware all along that their good luck wasn’t bulletproof. All of the “mean-spirited” comments are reflections of most people’s shock that the “plight” of the very privileged whining is worthy of such wide coverage in our only important papers remaining.

  134. @Claire Green You're leaving out the part where college is not a "gift." Most students go into debt to pay for college. Cornell tuition is around $60k a year. And as a Cornell alum, I can assure you that neither I nor any of my friends spent four years doing "whatever we please," and there was a lot more than a "modicum" amount of studying done. In fact, many of the students studied very hard, worked part time jobs, and were grateful for the opportunity to be at such an institution. You're trivializing many students' undergraduate experiences based off your stereotype of college.

  135. This process of college and university closure has been particularly difficult for first generation/low income students, as they lose their work study jobs, lose dining plans and housing without reimbursement, and find it difficult to pay for storage and sudden transportation. Some have home situations to which they cannot return. International students, too, are finding it difficult to get home as flights are cancelled, and they are left stranded.

  136. As long as these kids can stay away from at risk people for 2 weeks after they get home, I hope they all try to catch the virus as fast as they can. We need to build immunity in this low risk group fast. It will work a lot faster than waiting for a vaccine and having a second great depression while we wait. Think of it as their greatest generation moment - they're taking a 0.2% chance of death to save the herd.

  137. So the Millenials are going to learn what happens when and economy is kicked hard one way or the other, with the corresponding pain it creates for people. One can't really cry in ones soup or act victimized unless they simply want to be a loser. They need to go get work wherever and however they can, pulling themselves up. Anyone who studies subjects that won't aid them in a career, needs to tell others about their poor decisions, helping society from their pain.

  138. So the Millenials are going to learn what happen