Montclair State University’s Reaction to the Start of the Fall 2020 Semester

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Published October 24, 2020
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The Montclarion
Montclair State University has created free Zoom backgrounds for students and professors to use during online classes. Photo courtesy of Montclair State University

A huge portion of Montclair State University students have become online college students this year, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The semester officially started on Aug. 25 and most classes are now taking place online, via Zoom and Big Blue Button. With the first half of the semester completed, the school’s community spoke out about their experiences thus far.

From freshmen to seniors, students have been affected by the new way of learning. Sean Risch, a senior theater studies major and film minor, shared his experience in his final year.

“As far as being shocked goes, I wasn’t surprised. I was just a little disappointed because I thought we would have in-person classes at this point,” Risch said.

Sean Risch has to attend class at home rather than at the university. Photo courtesy of Sean Risch.

Sean Risch has to attend class at home rather than at the university.
Photo courtesy of Sean Risch

Risch, who is currently taking five courses, resides at home in Livingston, New Jersey. He admits to struggling with the temptation of distractions while attending classes online.

Risch is not alone in that boat. Jake Hamstra, a sophomore theater studies major with a concentration in education and a minor in musical theater, finds himself in the same predicament.

Hamstra resides at Montclair State, but is just returning after having to quarantine for two weeks, due to being in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, he tested negative.

As far as classes go, Hamstra feels a deep disconnect between his classmates and professors.

“It kind of just sucks because my favorite part of being at school so far is connecting with other people. I feel like nobody really wants to share and nobody really wants to talk to each other on Zoom, myself included,” Hamstra said.

Professor Mark Effron also shared his thoughts on how the fall 2020 semester has been going for him. Effron, who works at the School of Communication and Media, is involved in a multitude of jobs on campus.

Professor Mark Effron Teaching

Professor Mark Effron instructs an in-person class, before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Photo courtesy of the Montclair State SOAR

He is currently teaching a journalism course, as well as a media management course, both of which are now completely virtual. In addition to teaching, Effron oversees operations for Montclair News Lab, which is produced by students and a few of his colleagues. Effron claims he has adjusted to the current situation as well as one can.

“When you spend a career in news, you’re constantly dealing with change, in stories, in technology and in workflow,” Effron said.

Effron admits that it is not easy, but in light of it all, he has found his own positives in the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, he admits to the fact that he loves wearing shorts every day for class.

Professor Mark Effron in the control room at the School of Communications and Media

Professor Mark Effron offered a hands on teaching style which is impeded during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Photo courtesy of the Montclair State SOAR

Isabelle Moresco, a junior business administration major with a concentration in hospitality management, is taking seven classes this semester. She has become very frustrated with the logistics of online learning.

“I thought maybe because I’m a junior that was why, but even people who are younger than me are still having problems with their workload being heavier,” Moresco said.

Moresco recently moved into an off-campus apartment, but she is still close to the university. She has just one class that she must physically attend, and the meetings only occur every three weeks.

“I never would’ve seen myself in an online school,” Moresco said. “When we were younger, you used to see ads for online schooling and [think,] ‘that’s just not for me.'”

The fall 2020 semester at Montclair State is different, to say the least. If anything, these challenging times have taught us that nothing gets easier, but the world still goes on. Montclair State continues to provide education to students and jobs for many professors and faculty. As many students now only know each other virtually, this semester will be one for the books.

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