On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Clemson University President Jim Clements announced that all classes would remain online throughout the remainder of the spring 2020 semester and that all university events would be canceled through May 8.
This announcement comes as a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that has been sweeping the globe, and the decision was made in the wake of classes being moved online first for the week following spring break and then until April 5. Most students are not surprised by the news, but there has been no lack of strong reactions.
“The closure has brought about the end of club activities for the semester, which is most disappointing,” Michael Patterson, a freshman architecture major, said. “The decision being made after spring break has started was very inconvenient. Had the decision been made sooner, students could have moved out from housing before spring break rather than left with that to worry about.”
Students who were meant to graduate in May of 2020 are also confronted with the fact that their last semester at Clemson has suddenly been cut short.
While plans for graduation have yet to be released, professors have begun to share the different ways that they will be approaching online learning. From discussion boards to live videos, these methods will be a far cry from ordinary class interactions and assignments.
“Personally, I fear that e-learning will make my classes more difficult due to the format of them,” Patterson said. “As an architecture student, our studio-based classes are integral to our education. As a result of e-learning, this can't continue, and I believe the online classes will make it harder to do the work we need to do and get the feedback from professors that we need. I believe my foreign language class will also suffer, since the conversational nature of the class is important to learning the language, and this may be hard to keep intact with online classes, even with video conferences and chats.”
Despite some students’ calls for a pass/fail grading system for this semester, which Duke University and MIT have implemented, it appears that the Clemson administration remains resolute in keeping the grading system the same. However, Bob Jones, the executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Clemson, has made students aware of resources given by the Academic Success Center and of an extended deadline for dropping a class.
“With this shift in instruction, we have moved the last day to drop a course to next Friday (March 27),” Jones said in an email sent on Friday, March 20. “Please think carefully before dropping a course, as this may affect your status as a full-time student and may have an impact on your financial aid or scholarships.”
While Jones took the opportunity to remind students that all other financial and academic policies have not changed, that does not mean that other offices at Clemson have not been impacted by this pandemic.
On-campus housing seems to be undergoing the largest impact. Following Clements’ announcement, on-campus residents were informed that only students with “extenuating circumstances,” which would be judged on an individual basis, would be allowed access to residence halls and on-campus apartments. All other residents would not be allowed into the buildings until arriving to move out. A plan for an early and orderly move-out is being developed and will be released with “as much advance notice as possible,” according to an email sent by Clemson Home.
For students currently staying on campus, dining options are limited to one option. The Fresh Food Company, more commonly known as Core, is remaining open for two hours for each meal and offering only take-out options. Core will operate by those hours until further notice, and more details can be found on Clemson Dining’s website. All other on-campus dining is closed.
In response to not being allowed into on-campus housing and to no longer being able to put meal plans to use, thousands of students have also signed a petition that calls for refunding students for part of their housing and dining costs. As of Friday, March 20, the petition had 3,870 signatures, and numbers have continued to climb. Neither the petition nor any possibility of refunds has been acknowledged by Clemson administration at this point in time, though.
While most other on-campus offices have closed down and are now working remotely, as per Clements’ email on Sunday, March 15, Parking and Transportation Services has been deemed “essential or otherwise necessary.” Reports from students indicate that despite a drastic drop in campus population, tickets are still being written and distributed.
Much has changed on Clemson’s campus as a result of COVID-19, but the shockwaves are not limited to just the university. Locally famous businesses around downtown are also closing their doors and doing their part to prevent the spread of the virus.
Spill the Beans, which has been voted to have Clemson’s best ice cream for the last three years, closed for the foreseeable future on Saturday, March 21. Todaro Pizza, another favorite and voted as having the best pizza around, announced its closure on Friday, March 20. Bars, such as Tiger Town Tavern and TD’s, have yet to announce changes to their schedule, but South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced that all restaurants and bars must no longer allow a dine-in option.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world at large, and Clemson is no exception. More information can be found at the CDC’s website.