Students, staff rise to coronavirus campus challenges

Empty parking lots are the new norm on the McNichols campus. / VN photo / SOPHIE TORCELLO


The changes on campus brought about by the coronavirus pandemic are challenging students and staff at Detroit Mercy.

Classes have moved online, all group activities have been cancelled and many students have departed the dorms for home.

And then there’s the virus itself.

“I am not too worried,” freshman Logan Collins said. “I believe that with the correct precautions, I should be able to stay safe.”

Collins said that he is making sure to practice good hygiene by washing his hands regularly.

“Also, I am keeping my contact with others at a minimum,” he said.

Collins is optimistic about the change to online classes.

“My instructors have done a great job communicating with my classes; they are trying to make this transition as easy and smooth for the students as possible,” Collins said.

Junior Sheldon Clark does not mind the switch to online classes but being at home all the time has been a new experience.

“So far, I don’t mind it that much,” Clark said. “But it is definitely harder for me to focus while being in the same general area for school, for sleep, for eating and for entertainment.”

Otherwise, not much has changed for him aside from the switch to online classes.

“Because of the precautions being put in place, my mom has been working from home and my brother is off of school, which has caused more commotion at home,” said Clark. “Overall for me, it hasn’t changed much except from online classes.”

Some students are more distressed.

“I’m worried about spreading it to my parents,” said freshman David Hershman.

Hershman said the change to online education has made classes more difficult for him.

“I don’t like it because I lack motivation with online classes and it’s hard adjusting my routine,” said Hershman.

Junior Marina Keyzer also has qualms.

“I feel upset about the changes,” she said. “I feel bad for kids who are graduating this spring because of commencement being jumbled around. I’m upset that I have to feel cautious to go to Kroger, and I do not like all of these changes. I want face-to-face classes back… I never thought I would say that.”

However, Keyzer did note that she sees some positives.

“I think that professors will now know how to use Blackboard Collaborate better and hopefully we can utilize that more when we get back to actual class sessions face-to-face, which will be beneficial,” said Keyzer. “I think that good things will come out of this, even in these hard times.”

Professors are impacted, too, of course.

“It all feels incredibly busy suddenly,” English professor Sigrid Streit said. “So many more emails every day. Online meetings. Transitioning teaching from (face to face) to online in what is simply not enough time to do it well.”

Streit is also concerned about friends and family.

“I am worried about my elderly parents in Germany, friends, relatives here and in Germany. I wonder how long all of this will go on,” said Streit.

English professor Amanda Hiber has family on her mind, as well.

“I also have family – including an elderly mother – in Florida and I’m really worried about how long it will be before I can travel there,” said Hiber.

She said that the change to online classes is difficult but essential.

“I think it’s necessary but very hard on people,” said Hiber. “I do think the university – in particular, the Instructional Design Studio – has done an amazing job at training a large number of people to use technological tools most of us haven’t used before in a very small amount of time.”