‘I Feel Like I Have Been Robbed’ CCSU Seniors Express Disappointment Over COVID-19 Changes


CCSU Commencement Website

Last springs 2019 commencement was full while this years will only see empty seats.

Kelly Langevin, Social Media Editor

College seniors around the world will not get to end their semester in a typical way and Central Connecticut students are no exception. With canceled sports, no spring commencement ceremony  and trying to transition to online classes, these drastic changes can have an impact on one’s mental health.

On March 12, students were ordered to evacuate their dorms immediately as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. An email sent out by President Dr. Zulma Toro stated that a CCSU student had potential exposure to an individual who was currently being tested for the virus; the exposed student was later found to have tested negative.

According to the email, students were told to take their essential items with them as well as materials for online learning. Students who were supposed to stay at the dorms during spring break were moved to a nearby hotel.

Students are currently not allowed back into the dorms to grab any other items they might have left.

“I am an out-of-state student who has made a life here in CT, and was told I had to stay in the dorms because I am an athlete. Then they told me I had a couple of hours to leave and pack essential items,” senior criminology student Keelin Kendall stated.

In an interview, Kendall, who is also on CCSU’s women’s swim team, said she felt that CCSU was not helpful during the evacuation time. However, looking back, she understands the school was going through a lot as well.

Not being on campus has caused Kendall’s fellow teammate Erika Maerklein, senior biology student,  to feel a wide range of different emotions.

“Not being on campus has made me feel uneasy about keeping up with online classes. I feel disadvantaged because I don’t have the same resources as I would have at school,” Maerklein said. “I am upset that I will not be able to see my friends anymore, and frustrated that I didn’t get to have the fun final semester that I had anticipated and worked so hard for,” she added.

As CCSU’s Student Wellness Services website explains, dealing with new changes, such as online learning, can cause added stress while trying to navigate through the semester.

It states that “while mild to moderate levels of stress are typical for college students, heightened and prolonged feelings of stress can lead to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, as well as medical issues.”

The website recommends seeking out to people to talk to — whether it be a professor, tutors or campus support, or making an appointment with a counselor. The website also explains some ways to reduce stress, including yoga and dance, creating a schedule to follow, getting enough sleep and focusing on positive thinking.

At first, when the evacuation happened, the university announced classes would switch to an e-learning setting until April 5th. However, with the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation, an email notified the CCSU community that classes would remain online for the rest of the semester.

As a result, spring sports and the sports annual awards banquet were also cancelled. Even though the seniors affected are getting another year of eligibility and the CCSU seniors still be recognized over social media, this has not been easy on the athletes.

“Thankfully, my swim season ended just two weeks prior to everything,” Kendall said. “[However,] I am most upset about things I am missing out on. I waited for years of my collegiate swimming career to be a “normal college student” and two weeks into it, it was taken away from me,” Kendall said.

Clubs were no exception, as many of them also had to cancel their events.

“I am on the equestrian club team and our last competition was cancelled. We were all disappointed because it is very difficult to get as far as we did into competing,” senior marketing major Hannah Comstock said.

“We finished our regular season. Three of our riders placed first in their divisions and were going to what is called “zones ,” which is essentially all different conferences coming together in Virginia. But zones and nationals were cancelled,” Comstock noted.

Spring graduation, the final goodbye for many students, has been postponed to Dec. 19 and will be combined with the winter ceremony after gaining approval from Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian.

“Graduation being pushed to December will not feel as rewarding as if it were taking place in spring or summer. It is not timely and by winter many people will be at different places in their lives,” Maerklein said.

“Since I have seasonal affective disorder, I anticipate that I will not be in as much of a celebratory mood in December as I do in the spring and summer. I think we do deserve the recognition, but with all the changes that are happening, I can’t say that I am looking forward to it,” Maerklein continued.

With senior year ending strangely for Maercklein and other seniors, their mental health has been heavily impacted as their normal activities and classes have adjusted to COVID-19.

“I am usually good at persevering through tough times and being resilient if I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but my last semester was just that. I worked so hard to be able to enjoy the final moments of college, that I feel like I have been robbed of something that I can never get back,” Maercklein said. “I feel as, though, missing out on this part of my life will create a constant void that I cannot fulfill. Overall, not having closure on this chapter makes me feel a perpetual level of sadness and uncertainty.”

Central’s Student Wellness Services has had to adjust to the abrupt changes as well. Now, all counselors and health service providers are working remotely, holding individual and group appointments and sessions over Webex and Softphone. Appointments will continue to be scheduled but may be limited, the Student Wellness website states on their website.

Everyone, if they are a senior student or not, can contact Student Wellness Services if they are looking for assistance.