“I think the general expectation for senior year is a magical culmination of all four years, a capstone of closure. As COVID began unfolding, I started to understand that it wouldn't look like how I had imagined it.” - Emma Bailey ‘21
This is the harsh reality for the Class of 2021. For some seniors, the university's limited capacity, health risks, travel regulations, and other issues have prevented them from being on campus at all. For others who have made it to campus, pre-coronavirus expectations for their senior year have begun to fade as new regulations put a damper on some of the social activities and engagements they’d planned for.
Senior, Emma Bailey chose to live on campus this semester in order to best fulfill her on-campus responsibilities.
“I have two majors, I'm a Management Fellow and Honor Scholar, and I have a few on campus jobs and I wasn't confident in my ability to fully engage with my responsibilities from home,” Bailey said.
While she is grateful for the attention to detail in regards to health planning, she has some thoughts about how DePauw could make these uncertain times more enjoyable for those who are on campus. For Bailey and her senior classmates, Hoover Dining Hall has always been an all-you-can-eat buffet stocked with a wide array of options Now, Hoover only serves two takeout-only meal options, which is not the variety that the seniors have grown accustomed to.
“I wish Hoover had a wider array of options and that there were more activities to do on the weekends. It would be great to have an ‘outdoor theatre rental’ or some tents for eating or hanging out socially distanced,” Bailey said.
Similarly to Bailey, Carlos Martinez ‘21 chose to stay on campus but found that his senior year is not exactly what he had hoped for. For Martinez, COVID-19 meant that his last soccer season at DePauw was cancelled and he is unsure when and if they will be able to start training again. It is also heavily impacting his social and academic life.
“All of my friends aren’t on campus and also virtual learning is not my favorite, but I know the professors have been trying their best to make it work,” Martinez said.
“When we were sent home back in March, I knew my senior year would be much different than expected, but I never imagined it like this.” - Gina Federighi ‘21
Senior Gina Federighi feels the same pain as Carlos, noting that many of her friends are also learning remotely while she chose to stay on campus. That distance from friends, along with a general lack of normalcy on campus, has really taken a toll on her senior year.
“Prior to COVID-19, I was very excited for senior year and to spend the last two semesters with my friends,” Federighi said. “When we were sent home back in March, I knew my senior year would be much different than expected, but I never imagined it like this.”
Time spent with their classmates and faculty is either different or non-existent.
“I know I am very fortunate in that I am back on campus, attending an in-person class, and able to continue my chemistry research, but it is difficult when one of the best parts about college is being near your friends,” Federighi continued.
In addition to the present challenge of social life, Federighi is also looking forward to her impending graduation.
“For myself and other seniors, it's also hard because this is nearing the end of our college career,” Federghi said. “We need help figuring out graduate school or job applications. We want to continue to grow upon those connections with faculty and staff.”
While everyone has made sacrifices, college seniors are missing out on moments and memories that they expected to be the culmination of their school years. They've been deprived of their last chance to experience the cheering crowds and Tiger tailgates of a Monon Bell game, or the energy of Little 5. This year’s seniors are being thrown into post-graduate independence without a real, normal chance to say goodbye to their college careers.
However, not all is lost for the seniors. Many are finding creative ways to spend time together and make the most out of their senior years. Bailey and some other seniors on campus have taken to the university tents, lined with twinkling lights like a first-year dorm room, and played a distanced game of Pictionary.
“Honestly [it was] a blast!” Bailey said. “When I juxtapose it with what I anticipated, I do feel a little sad. It isn’t quite the spontaneous college memory I imagined and it doesn’t lend itself to a crazy college story...but a different kind of adventure nonetheless.”