Jocelyn Buggy ‘22
On Monday, March 11, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs S.J., president sent an email to all College of the Holy Cross students, faculty, and employees. The email, titled “Important College Update,” outlined the College’s response to the recent rise of COVID-19 in the United States. Boroughs’s message came one day after Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts and just hours after Dr. Anthony Fauci ‘62, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged Americans at a congressional hearing to alter their daily routines in order to minimize exposure to the virus.
In his March 11 email, President Boroughs outlined 10 key pieces of information about how the College will proceed throughout the remainder of the semester. He stated that in-person classes were to end on Friday, March 13 and transition to a distance learning format starting Monday, March 23. Classes are to remain online for the remaining weeks of the semester. Further, Boroughs directed students to move out of their residence halls, taking all belongings with them, no later than Saturday, March 14, at 5:00 p.m. Those who faced extenuating challenges related to this policy, such as international students, were able to petition for an exception to remain living on campus.
News of President Borough’s e-mail shocked many students and faculty members. Sophomore Michaela Lake described her experience reading the message: “I immediately felt sad for myself and the rest of my Holy Cross friends. I never expected something like this to affect my college experience, and the thought of leaving campus before the end of the semester was a scary and heartbreaking thought.” Lake’s words echo the feelings of many Holy Cross students who feel as though their semester on the Hill was cut short.
The shift to distance-learning remains particularly heartbreaking for the Class of 2020, whose time on campus ended two months earlier than they expected. President Boroughs addressed seniors via e-mail on March 18 and expressed his commitment to holding a graduation ceremony. He wrote: “We will have a graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. I don’t know when, as it will have to be after the virus has passed, nor do I know any details because reality is changing minute by minute, but you, your families, and your faculty and staff deserve to celebrate together the achievements you have made over the past 4 years. We can’t and won’t let this academic year end this way.”
Despite the upheaval of regular campus life, practical resources remain available for students. All College employees who could transition to working from home were directed to do so beginning Monday, March 16. Advising and support services for students have also begun to transition to remote formats. Faculty have arranged to hold online office hours through services like Google Meet and Zoom. Virtual Writer’s Workshop appointments can be made online starting Wednesday, March 25. Students can also schedule Career Center appointments with a career counselor via video chat or phone through their Handshake accounts. Although all on-campus events after March 12, including liturgies, were canceled for the semester, the Chaplains Office started a video series in which Jesuits and chaplains offer weekly homilies and reflections. The series, called “Closing the Distance,” will release new videos every Sunday and during the Holy Days before Easter.