In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and all the hysteria that has emerged due to this disease I, like many other seniors around the country, have come to a rather stark understanding. No one gives a fuck about our graduation or any of our supposed “senior plans.”
The truth of the matter is that this disease is certainly, for lack of a better word, a bummer for most people, seniors included. Many of us are left not knowing exactly what is coming next for us in a post-COVID-19 world. How will this affect the economy that I am supposed to become a valued member of in the months after I graduate? How long will these social distancing procedures remain in effect? How many people across this country and around the world will succumb to this disease? With all of these unknowns, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a way to care about the apparent sadness draped over Instagram over the lack of a graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.
That being said, I do understand that for many people graduating high school or college is a major stepping stone, specifically for people of color. For many of us, graduation is more than just a ceremonious last hurrah in front of your friends and loved ones, it is a statement. Coming from an area where graduating high school, let alone college, is oftentimes seen as a nonnecessity, I can understand the plight of my fellow seniors in their collective woes concerning the commencement ceremony that we all deserve. From the art majors to the biochemistry students, we all worked hard for this achievement and deserve to be celebrated. However, in light of the devastation COVID-19 has left and continues to create throughout the country, specifically in New York, I truly struggle to feel sympathy for the thousands of graduates who will not be afforded the same luxuries given to previous classes because the fact of the matter is clear — people are dying.
As of writing this piece, over 55,000 people in the United States have already succumbed to this disease, with over 16,000 coming from the great state of New York. With these growing numbers, a few things have become apparent. First, sadly, summer 2020 most likely will not see the usual pictures plastered over Instagram of rich kids sunbathing during their European getaways or your high school friends having fun without you. Second, our class is most likely going into the job market during the most uncertain time since the 2008 market crash. Lastly, all of my and my other senior friends’ plans for an amazing final semester have gone to the wayside because people are dying.
For some of you, the full scope of these figures may not really resonate. To be honest, they did not truly resonate with me until the virus made landfall in my home county of Rockland. I come from the village of Spring Valley which is home to a predominantly ethnic, predominantly poorer community. Unsurprisingly, we have been hit incredibly hard by this disease. Seemingly all of my friends from back home know somebody who has either been diagnosed with the virus or has sadly passed away from it. It is with this outlook that I draw my apparent cynicism toward the woes of the class of 2020.
With people suffering in droves around the state and communities of color seeing an incredible rate of not only infection but also death, I struggle to see how senior send-offs and graduation pictures would remedy this truth.
I am not trying to sit on some insurmountable high horse where I alone can pass judgment, but I do hope that we, as a graduating class, can be more conscious of the privilege of life that we are currently given. Let’s not worry about stuff like graduation and all the likes it surely would have garnered us all on social media. Rather, let’s look toward our bright futures where hopefully the misery brought upon us by 2020 will be just a distant memory. Where we could all share a laugh about how minute all of our graduation woes were in the bigger picture, but you know what they say — hindsight is 2020.
David Julien is a senior double-majoring in history and philosophy, politics and law.