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Old Gold & Black


Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

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Reunited…For Now

2021 seniors hope to avoid the virtual fate of the class of 2020. Illustration by Walker Antonio

Wofford seniors wary of potential early dismissal

After losing nearly an entire semester of in-person class due to the coronavirus last spring, the Wofford community is enjoying its time back together…for now. For some students, namely Aryk Hennings, ’21, Sadie Fink, ’20, and Amita Patel, ’21, the return from summer break has not come without concern about the possibility of another premature conclusion.

Fink was abroad in Dakar, Senegal when she had to return to the United States the day before the country closed its borders, and the short-notice move back home was “probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life.”

For her, though, it would have been safer to remain in Senegal, where there were “less than a dozen cases,” compared to South Carolina, which had surpassed 100 cases at the time, financial complications and lack of support from Wofford or from CIEE left her with no option but to come home.

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Hennings, a Georgia native, and Patel, a resident of South Carolina, both spent their summers at home after the cancellation of abroad opportunities and research plans, respectively.

“I was really sad,” Hennings said, “mostly just because I was shocked and I didn’t wanna be at home. Going home from being at college was just hard, so I was really upset at first.”

For Patel, a psychology major working on her senior thesis, the biggest concern remains both the format for her lab periods and how she would seek extra assistance from professors.

Patel: “I think we’re better prepared this semester, but personally for me, I’m in three labs and thesis, so if we go online, I really don’t know how a lot of those labs would go. With thesis, we’re doing research with rats, so I don’t know how that would do off-campus, remote. Hopefully we’ll be able to get enough data in to do it if we go online.”

After relatively high levels of concern after initially coming back to campus, the general feeling seems to be that the senior class has handled the new coronavirus rule changes well—well, most of them.

“I would say the majority of the seniors are really following the rules and encouraging others to follow the rules because they want to have their full senior year, they want to be able to stay,” Fink said. 

Patel echoed these remarks, noting that she and her friends make sure to wear masks and socially distance themselves as best they can.

All three seniors did, however, say that the way that younger classes of students have responded to the restrictions has worried them, especially considering that no one really knows what the tipping point is for students to be dismissed.

As far as Fink can tell, though, the class of 2024 has not had the best reputation so far.

“The freshmen have pretty much been shit on constantly,” she said, “but I don’t know much about how the sophomores and juniors feel about it because I’ve used my apartment as my own personal bubble and haven’t really left besides for class.”

Such is not the case for Hennings, who has made a hobby out of getting out of her apartment to take mind-clearing walks around campus. However, the absence of one small item has been slightly worrisome.

Hennings: “I’ve seen lots of people forming in groups and not wearing masks. They live in dorms, [but] we live in apartments and have our own space, so it’s a little bit easier for us to keep things clean and maintain a social distance.”

The collective dependence on other students regardless of their year at Wofford has also weighed on students’ minds as they understand that whether or not students get sent home early could be completely out of their hands as individuals.

Patel said that, while she and her fellow seniors are excited to be back on campus, they are still “worried about underclassmen or even our fellow seniors following the rules and not going out to bars too much or anything.” 

Hennings felt the same way, adding that students should recognize that “just because you’re off campus doesn’t mean that the coronavirus doesn’t exist anymore.”

Now past the initial 14 days of class, all three students hope to carry out their fall semester to the November 20 cutoff day ahead of Thanksgiving, and a large part of that is doing their part to follow guidelines and hoping that other students do the same to stop the spread of the coronavirus and to salvage what we can from both this semester and this school year. 

“I live day by day,” said Hennings, “and every day, I go into class, I wipe off my desk, I wipe off my chair, and I go about my business…. I feel like it’s hard for me to anticipate something that hasn’t happened yet. I’m just worried about keeping myself and others clean now, rather than the consequences of other people’s actions.”

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