ANGOLA — With the recent burden of the COVID-19 virus taking grasp of the nation, businesses, services and schools are temporarily closing down in order to combat the virus’ spread.
Trine University joined the list of closed institutions a week ago. President Earl Brooks II, in a message addressed to Trine’s students and faculty, announced that the campus and residential buildings will be closing and all classes are to fully shift to an online platform. This news — although expected by many — took a toll on the students of Trine University.
Among these changes and actions, many students were left with sorrow-filled hearts and confusion. A group maybe even more affected than the rest are those who belong to the Class of 2020. Students were sent home to finish their school year with no definitive information about commencement. Details about graduation were expected to be made available this week.
(UPDATE: Trine announced March 25 that it has canceled its spring commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 2.
(“This is yet another decision we did not want to make, but it was out of our hands,” Brooks said in an email to graduating seniors and parents. “We know how much you and your family were looking forward to celebrating your tremendous accomplishments. And so were we. … For most of us, it is the highlight of the year.”
(Brooks said the decision to cancel was made in order to ensure the health and safety of students, families, and the Trine University community. The university is moving forward with other plans to honor the Trine University Class of 2020, he said.
(Trine will host a Senior Celebration for the Class of 2020 at Homecoming, which will take place Oct. 9-11. The weekend will include a full slate of activities honoring the Class of 2020.
(Members of the Class of 2020 also will be invited to participate in an expanded fall graduation ceremony on Dec. 12.)
“I just feel robbed of the celebration of actually reaching the end,” said senior Kaitlyn Steers of Valparaiso.
On top of this impact, sports and extracurricular activities were greatly affected as well. Organizations and sports teams canceled seasons and any type of activity for the rest of the school year.
“It still doesn’t feel real. One minute we were in Maine heading to Bowdoin for practice and the next I am a retired athlete,” said Steers, a member of Trine’s women’s basketball team. The team was on its way to play in the Sweet 16 game against Bowdoin with hopes to make it the Sweet 8, but with the virus taking a grasp it was canceled and the season was brought to an end.
“The hardest thing that I have had to deal with so far is the lack of closure. A season usually ends with a loss, unless you win it all, and as the clock winds down you are able to kind of let it hit you that it is ending and are able to soak up the moment. There was none of that this time around,” said Steers. She was among the hundreds of student athletes who had their spring season taken from them due to the virus and was one of many senior athletes that will never get the chance to compete in the sport they love again.
With the order to have all campus residents evacuated, students and families scrambled in panic in order to get back home where they live. This became more of a problem after the governor of Indiana issued travel restrictions. To accommodate to this situation, Brooks canceled classes for Tuesday and had the move-out date moved up to Wednesday. This left students confused and stressed as to what to do next.
With roughly eight weeks left, the Class of 2020’s last year at the Trine University campus was taken from them by the virus.
With the second week of online classes, things are slowly finding their place, but students seem to be struggling with the transition.
“I find myself flustered, going around trying to find out what I need to do by when, it feels clustered, but at the same time I feel like I have way too much free time on my hands. It’s weird going online after all you have known the past 16 years of your life is face-to-face teaching” said Mason Russell, a graduating senior.
The transition is struggle for many of the students at Trine University. The impact is found on all levels. It’s a shock that many weren’t ready for, but as things slowly start to settle down students hope to find themselves with a better grasp on the situation.