Story written by Larry Valenzuela and Zaeem Shaikh
Fresno State has decided to officially cancel all graduation commencement ceremonies and encouraged students to move out of the dorms and return home effective Friday, March 20, due to concerns of coronavirus.
According to a press release from the university, campus will not be conducting the commencement ceremonies in May. The campus will continue to explore how and when to celebrate Commencement 2020, depending on the quickly changing situation.
Classes will remain online until the end of the semester. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, classes had been projected to return to campus on April 27.
The release states that the students are encouraged to return home except for those students who wish to remain in Student Housing and may need access to technology for receiving virtual instruction.
The campus will continue to provide housing and meals for students who need to remain on campus through the end of spring semester, unless directed otherwise by the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
Also effective Friday, campus offices that are not essential to direct student support will transition to working remotely. Virtual instruction will also begin on Friday.
Agricultural operations will continue on the farm. On Monday, the Student Recreation Center’s only offices within the center will remain open at this time, and Vintage Days has been canceled based on guidance from public health officials.
On March 16, Fresno State suspended in-person, on-campus classes effective Monday, March 16.
Faculty were told to make final preparations for virtual delivery of instruction that had been face to face. Virtual instruction will begin on Friday, March 20.
Some classes continued to meet in person between March 16 through the 19 if alternative instruction was not provided. This included laboratory, performing arts and kinesiology courses, and campus farm activities.
Students are asked to communicate directly with their professors or department chairs if they have specific questions or concerns related to projects, presentations, exams, coursework.
With the exception of fully online courses, all deliverables (homework/in-class assignments) previously due during the closure will be rescheduled by professors to be due after March 19.
Online assignments due between March 16-19 that are part of in-person classes will also be suspended and may be rescheduled.
In a press conference held last Thursday President Joseph I. Castro said that accommodations associated with social distancing will be implemented in the courses that will continue to meet in the transition period.
Castro said that nonacademic campus operations will continue as usual including student housing and dining, the student health and counseling center, the student cupboard which provides food for healthy students, financial aid, student housing and all nonacademic offices.
“We will work with our faculty to ensure that we follow social distancing guidelines the best that we can within our laboratories, within our farm activities, some of the kinesiology courses and some of the performing arts courses.”
With the transition to virtual instruction, Castro said they will work with students with no internet access and will provide technology where they can.
“…Through our DiscoverE program as you may know, we actually lend devices to students in that program. We have some devices that we have not lent out for purposes of that program that we will consider using for students who need them, and we’ll do our very best to meet the needs if they have them.”
Fresno State students have said they are not sure how they will transition to virtual instruction.
Christine Yen, an accounting major at Fresno State, said she’s unsure how her professors will adapt to virtual instruction in her upper-division accounting classes.
“There are some [accounting] classes where such a large percentage of students fail because it’s so difficult they fail it in class,” Yen said. “When people already are failing this class because it’s so difficult from in-class, I think it’ll be even harder because some of them are online.”
Yen also added she was frustrated on Tuesday of the possibility of the commencement ceremony being canceled.
“I have been going to accounting school for seven years. We waited so long to graduate, and it kind of sucks that Grad Fest and [other events] are canceled,” Yen said. “Most people in accounting– we have to take 150 units not 120, so we had to stay extra [years].”
Jacqueline Martinez is another student at Fresno State who has no computer and limited access to the internet at home. She said she lives an hour away from campus and took advantage of the library and computer labs around campus.
With the campus closing, she can’t utilize those services anymore, and she has to return her laptop from Fresno State by tomorrow– her only wireless device other than her cell phone.
“[My computer from Fresno State] is really slow,” Martinez said. “I was trying to work on an assignment a couple of days ago, and it was really bad; it doesn’t even turn on [without a charger].”
According to Martinez, she believes the campus isn’t ready for a big transition, and she feels she’s being neglected.
“I know that it’s the era of technology, but it’s kind’ve hard when you don’t have [the] accessibility of tools like everybody else,” Martinez said. “I’ve tried to talk to some professors about my struggles and living away from campus, and they couldn’t really give me a [clear answer].”