October 19, 2020

Liberal arts students and COVID-19

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and Northampton Community College’s decision to move classes online, many students ask “What are we supposed to do now?” If you or someone you know is involved in a field that requires physical training, such as Automotive Engineering, you can understand the kind of trouble these students are going through.

Over the phone, I spoke with a number of students in the humanities, to see how they were dealing with the new changes. Tyler Skinner, a 2nd-year Communication Design major, described his work as “learning how to advertise to a general audience.” This involves photoshop, illustrator, as well as art history and typography. “My experience with it has been pretty good so far,” Skinner said. “It’s been my favorite major out of the three I’ve explored.” Jae Villanueva, a 2nd year English major, described their work as “learning how to express words in a more refined way,” or in the most eloquent way they could put it, “I learn how to write good.” Brendan Mari Davis, a 2nd year Media Production major described his work as “for anyone who wants to get into any branch of mass media.” Before the outbreak, he was working on a group project making a short film for the final.

When asked about the physical aspect of their major, students expressed some worries. Skinner replied, “It’s really important. Art is one of those majors that is super difficult to be taught online, especially for people who need physical teaching to grasp certain concepts.” Skinner added, “Not to mention the fact that most of us don’t have the programs needed to complete most of the work at home.”Villanueva said, “I learn best when I have other people to break things down for me. It’s r to do that over the internet.” Davis replied, “The physical aspect is paramount to my major. With the shift to online learning, we’ll essentially be learning how to make videos with our phones, by ourselves. When I signed up, I expected to be taught how to make broadcast-quality videos, not YouTube skits.”

In response to “What do you think of the college’s handling of the situation?”, students were mixed. “I think they’re trying to do their best,” Davis said, “But it doesn’t fully address the fact that online learning doesn’t meet all the needs for our majors. I mean, sure, it makes sense that they’d want to push forward considering we’re already halfway through the semester, but at the same time, I’m not satisfied with the alternative, and I did pay for these classes. I hope they realize just how ridiculous this change is.”

“They’re trying to give us easier access to the programs we need, and my professors are doing their best to smooth the transition as much as they can. This semester might be a little rough, but I think everything will be back to normal soon,” Skinner said. “I’m being pretty optimistic!” Villanueva replied, “I wouldn’t mind a revolution.”

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