I have been experiencing frustration and confusion for the past few months. You see, I love Ithaca College, my courses, my friends, the town of Ithaca and everything else that comes from being enrolled at Ithaca College. As I was on campus during the close of college over spring break, I was asked to leave. Like many other students, I shared a bittersweet goodbye with my dorm room full of my belongings, unsure of what would come next. I did not take much with me but assumed I’d be back sometime soon or in August at the latest. From spring break until now, I have had that constant feeling that I have an itch I can’t scratch, only now the itch has mutated into a rash.
I am left with many questions I am unable to get answered by Ithaca College. I feel as if the college has not been as transparent as possible and has left people hanging. As a rising junior, I was excited when the school initially expressed that it would find a solution to welcome all students back to campus for the fall semester. My anxieties were alleviated by the commitment the school had displayed to its student body when it said it would find a way for everyone to come back. I felt hopeful and positive as I looked forward to my eventual return to my home away from home. However, a few months after this comment was made, Ithaca College announced that the fall semester would only continue in person for students that reside in states, not on the New York state mandatory quarantine list. As I am from California, I spent weeks trying to create solutions with peers while feeling that there was an inequity among students who could and could not come back to campus due to the location of their legal residence.
Then, the college released another email a few weeks later saying that the semester would continue through remote instruction for the fall semester. As I had initially hoped that my state would eventually come off the quarantine list allowing me to return to campus, this news has been extremely disheartening for both myself and all Ithaca College students. I have strongly considered taking time off but have been made aware that choosing to defer a semester will leave students with no guarantee of the housing they had previously arranged upon return to in-person instruction. When I read this news, I sat alone in my bedroom with questions racing through my mind. These questions still stand. What will the upcoming semester look like for students? Will we ever be able to go back to campus? How will our quality of education be upheld with online classes? After anticipating a return to Ithaca for months, it feels like all expectations for the semester have been shattered. Before I had a chance to truly consider all of these questions, I was being added to group chats with students to discuss, strategize and plan our next steps.
At first, we were all confused as to why Ithaca College can not provide options for students, such as the possibility of a 14-day quarantine and COVID-19 test (perhaps at an off-campus location) upon arrival to Ithaca. While neighboring colleges have devised plans to welcome their students back, Ithaca College says that it simply does not have the infrastructure. In such an unprecedented time, I understand Ithaca College’s use of caution when approaching the school year. With a global pandemic that is not going away any time soon, this does seem to be the safest option at the end of the day.
As of now, my plans for the semester are still unclear. It can be very difficult to plan for your future when you don’t know what’s ahead. I have no option but to do classes online. In the height of an extremely unusual time, the college is doing everything it can to maintain help and safety, yet its response leaves students questioning what is in store for the upcoming school year.