By: Madison Zaleski ‘21
As the University of Mount Union rolls into week eight of online learning, students and faculty are finally settling in and adjusting to their new reality. After having in-person instruction stopped for the remainder of the school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, students and faculty were forced to buckle down and challenge themselves with a new, super unusual, kind of frustrating, yet incredibly interesting way of learning.
The University’s faculty members have played a huge role in the transition for students in all departments. I know my professors have all made me feel heard and genuinely cared for throughout the whole process. When asked to describe some ways that professors have eased their transition many of my peers had nothing but praise to give.
“My professors have been very helpful in my transition by doing things such as having soft deadlines for assignments, being readily available, sending lots of email updates informing us of changes as they happen, and in general being really fair with all of us,” said Emmett Davis ’22, a mechanical engineering major of Carrollton, Ohio. “They all have scheduled office hours every week through programs such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams so that we can still have “face-to-face” meetings to talk about what is going on.”
Another student described how easily available his professors made themselves.
“Two of my professors gave out their phone numbers to us in case we needed to ask them important questions about assignments that needed to be answered ASAP,” said Carson Troyer ’21, a criminal justice major of Sugarcreek, Ohio.
Real-life is harder to generate when you’re dealing with everything through screens, and it’s not easy for faculty either. Professors miss the in-class instruction just as much as the students themselves. It’s encouraging to know, however, that students, while being at home, are also helping ease the hearts of their professors. When asked how students may have helped her transition, Dr. Nicole Johnson, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, had nothing but uplifting comments to make.
“In the first two weeks I reached out to each of my students separately via email to check in with them, and their resilience and honesty were a buoy for me as I navigated the unknown waters of online instruction,” said Johnson. “Students would answer my questions about how they were doing and if I could help them with anything, and then they'd ask very sincerely how I and my family were faring. That kind of reciprocated care and concern was life-giving to me at the start of all this, and it continues to be that as we move through the semester.”
As we quickly approach the end of the semester it’s inevitable to be running out of steam and I think most can agree that it’s been a very trying semester. Ultimately, it’s motivated a mutual effort to develop and maintain those meaningful learning experiences for both students and professors. Though it has been difficult at times, my peers have a shared sense of encouragement.
“We are going to get through this together! One thing I've always loved about Mount is that it feels like a family,” said Olivia Frantum ‘22, a human development and family science major of Massilon, Ohio. “I know that my professors, bosses, friends, and everyone in between are some of the most supportive people I have in my life. I truly would not want to attend any other university.”
“I would say just buckle down and keep grinding. I know this is all crazy right now, but we will get through it together,” said Troyer.
With a grateful heart to all efforts made I think we can confidently say that we started together, figured it out together, and will finish strong. Together.