“I was looking forward to going to some football games, tailgating, you know, going to some basketball games, and really supporting the teams,” said Tatianna Rosa, a sophomore from Manchester who transferred to Central Connecticut State University this semester.
However, that part of the college experience will have to wait. For now, it’s all about academics at CCSU. Rosa said even that’s changed.
“It’s a big difference. Instead of doing like labs in person you have to do it online now,” said the biology major.
All of Rosa’s classes were moved online. She decided to move on campus anyway. Many of her fellow Blue Devils did not.
“A lot of people I know classes are online so they just decided to stay home,” said freshman journalism major Sofia DiPiro, noting that she had to get a new roommate when hers decided not to show up.
CCSU said a third of its classes are in a hyflex format, with a small number of students learning in-person while their classmates follow along online.
“The one that I was supposed to have in person today there was technology issues already,” pointed out DiPiro of Beacon Falls.
“My professor he was setting up the online but the audio wasn’t working so he was like at the end of the class he just told the class that he’d see them on Friday because they just missed the class,” said Ciara Cebollero, a CCSU freshman from Canton studying criminal justice.
Rosa said she doesn't believe she’s getting her money’s worth.
“I feel like I’m not getting the same value because I feel like in person I’m more engaged, it’s easier to take notes, I can see what they’re talking about because we’re actually making eye contact,” Rosa explained.
We asked CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro for her reaction to the students’ concerns.
“I can guarantee you that the online courses we are offering this semester in terms of quality and technological approaches used by faculty are superior to any online courses we have offered before,” Toro answered.
Elementary education major Madison Irizarry said all but one of the classes on her schedule moved online but she said she doesn't mind.
“I’d prefer to be not around campus, not around people,” Irizarry explained.
Students said what they really miss the most is the social experience.
“I feel like at night I expected it to just to be more people around but there isn’t,” said Cebollero.
DiPiro said she also knows she’s not getting the full college experience she envisioned when she was making her college plans.
“You know, I definitely expected to have all my classes in person, to go to games, to just be around a lot more people,” she said.
Standing on the CCSU campus Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont encouraged students to take the pandemic seriously.
“Look, I don’t want to be governor kill joy, but I also know we’re going to have to work hard to keep our colleges opened safely,” he said.
Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut’s college and university system, said there will be consequences for those who violate campus COVID-19 rules.
“Clearly, if folks violate those guidelines, whether it’s on campus or off campus there are actions we can take to minimize those activities,” he said not going into detail about those consequences.
Irizarry pointed out that she thinks CCSU is going the extra mile to keep students safe.
“There’s a lot of hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, no outside visitors,” said Irizarry.
“They’re testing 5% to 10% of us every week. The protocols, the requirements, they’re pretty strict,” DiPiro added.
Students are not allowed to visit other residence halls, partitions have been installed in the cafeteria, and students must wear masks whenever they can’t keep six feet apart. In hyflex classes half the students attend in person while the other half live streams the class at the same time.
Despite all the protocols in place students said their safety is really dependent on their classmates following those new rules.
“Not everybody is willing to compromise, you know wearing the mask everywhere,” said DiPiro.
Ojakian said he hopes students rise to the occasion.
“Many have dismissed your ability out of hand to be socially responsible,” said Ojakian. I think it’s up to all of the students to prove everybody wrong,” he said.