On Thursday, March 12, I was sitting around the table at Primal Pasta with colleagues. A sense of eeriness ran down 20th Street with mentions of the recently cancelled Junos on nearly every storefront.
Much of our conversation surrounded the escalating situation of COVID-19. There were rumblings around campus about the potential of classes being cancelled for the remainder of the term. I briefly mentioned my contingency plan of moving back to my hometown to be with my family.
The increase of time alone in my apartment was already getting to me, even though the situation in Saskatchewan was only several days old. I soon found myself driving down the Yellowhead Highway less than 48 hours later — on track to live out every 22-year-old university student’s dream of moving into their parents’ basement.
It was a premature and unexpected departure from one of my favourite places, the campus of the University of Saskatchewan. I’ve often wondered what my last days of university would look like, but I never expected them to look like this
For the past four years, I’ve taken advantage of every facet the university — and my college, Edwards School of Business — had to offer. I studied, worked, researched and have been a part of student groups. Overall, I spent way more time there than at my actual home.
The people in this building became like a second family.
As April 7 came closer, I envisioned what my last day of undergrad would look like: presenting our capstone presentation with my best friend, leaving class for the final time, printing off and stapling my thesis for sole satisfaction, celebratory beers at Louis’ and taking the typical last day of school photo in front of the Edwards sign.
Alas, many of these plans will be delayed to a further date and in much different circumstances.
The feeling, I am sure, is similar for many graduating students — we are left hanging in this liminal state. No goodbyes to friends and professors, no sense of satisfaction after writing the last midterm or our final exams. There won’t be anymore smiles with the friendly Tim Hortons worker. Instead, many of us left campus on Thursday or Friday for the last time this academic year.
As the situation escalates, the usual festivities — like grad banquets, photos and even convocation — have been cancelled. Some of us may be going into the workforce while others are going for more schooling. There will be many of us still finding our way after these upcoming online final exams.
Post-convocation is often a time of uncertainty for many graduates and many of the events we were looking forward to over the years are so small in the grand scheme of things.
I do not disagree with the U of S suspending in-person classes and moving them online. It is a smart and logical decision in my mind. However, this changes the experiences of the final term for many students.
So what we have now is to remember the memories USask gave us. While things may seem bleak, it will all be okay. Know that even though things don’t always end as they are meant to be, they always end as they should be.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic: Shawna Langer | Graphics Editor