Students Dealing with Challenges Unlike Any in Recent Memory Say They Are Cautiously Optimistic

Second in a Series

The first day of classes landed on a muggy Wednesday, August 25. What seemed like a never-ending line of students shuffled outside the Hunter West Building, 68th and Lexington Avenue, at 10 a.m. An air of confusion was palpable as voices could be heard aloud questioning the line’s purpose.

Three students interviewed for this article were asked about their decisions to return to campus for classes, expectations about completing studies and opinions about what they think of CUNY’s efforts to protect them in a city still in the throes of the Delta Variant.

Delta Variant.

68th Street and Lexington Avenue, main campus of Hunter. Picture by Bailey Huebner

Media Studies Student JadeAnn Rowe Commutes From Long Island

What are your first impressions of Fall 2021 hybrid learning? I’m mostly doing online classes. So, I don’t have much of an impression on hybrid learning. I will say that I wish there were more options for online classes. Hunter is mostly a commuter school and I think that many students benefit from the flexibility brought on by online and hybrid classes. I would say overall that flexible learning has been incredibly beneficial.

What factors contributed to your decision to take primarily online classes? A couple of things, primarily location, I live in Long Island, so the commute definitely wears on you. Before Covid, I was dorm-ing through Hunter. But, I had to return home for family reasons. So, online courses are pretty crucial for me at the moment.

What are your thoughts on CUNY’s pandemic precautions? I think CUNY is doing a pretty good job at handling the pandemic and cases well. They just recently sent an email listing the number of cases at each school and more information on how they’re keeping things at bay. I know for my in-person class, we’re staying in the same seats all year to help with contact tracing, as well as wearing masks at all times. So, it’s nice to see that they’re taking measures to make school a safe environment for students.

Have you had an in-person class? What was it like coming back to campus after a year and a half of pure online learning? I have. It was great. It was my first time really commuting. I took a different route and went through Brooklyn. I realized how much I missed it here when we were crossing the bridge and I could see the city in front of me. Being at Hunter now versus then there’s definitely a change. However, it is nice to see faces beyond a screen. It’s nice to have real life interactions.

In what ways could CUNY improve your learning experience? I think by just offering flexibility. It would also be great if we could get an update in advance about plans for the spring so that we can plan accordingly. So many people’s lives have changed because of Covid, so I think it’s helpful that CUNY keeps communicating with and updating the students as much as possible.


Casey Goldstein Looking Forward to 2022 January Commencement

What factors contributed to your decision to take some in-person classes? It’s weird to be back in-person. I didn’t have a choice. This is my last semester, and some of my classes didn’t have an online option. I do miss being back in person. I wouldn’t say I regret it. I would have still chosen in-person class because it’s my last semester at Hunter, and I feel like I haven’t spent enough time on campus or really gotten to know the school because of the pandemic.

What are your thoughts on CUNY’s pandemic precautions? I do think that it’s weird that CUNY didn’t require students to get vaccinated sooner. I don’t really like that there is this long deadline for people to get vaccinated because I feel like I would feel safer about returning to school if everyone was vaccinated.

Could you walk me through your first week back at Hunter? Were there any difficulties or surprises? My first day back at Hunter was at Roosevelt House. I was kind of relieved because I know the main Hunter campus is usually jam-packed, but Roosevelt House is a smaller environment with less students. Hunter can be really crowded, and I thought that could be overwhelming since I would be going to a cramped pandemic environment from online class. Social distancing hasn’t been possible on the main campus and in larger classes.

What your thoughts on the OneCard and Everbridge? It is extremely messy for CUNY in general to use Everbridge, and unnecessary especially if they are also using excelsior pass. I don’t understand using both of those things.

How do you feel CUNY has handled the back-to-school transition? It is impossible to social distance. I have seen some hand sanitizer machines already that don’t work or have been broken. And CUNY took so long to give any information about how we were opening and when to get vaccinated.

How do you anticipate CUNY will handle the Delta Variant moving forward? Because of CUNY disorganization and waiting so long to send out information, that has kind of lead me to be weary. Even though I know pandemic circumstances keep changing, I would have appreciated CUNY being less wishy washy.


[COVID-Era College: Are Students Satisfied? – Inside Higher Ed Article]



A campus scene shot showing what things looked like before the studies went remote.

Owen Hegedus Who Lives in Putnam County Has a Hell of a Commute

What are your first impressions of in-person learning?  I feel like it’s a little bit hectic so far. Some classes are hybrid, some are all in person, some all online. I live upstate and have an hour and a half commute, so some days I have a class in-person, then one online, then in person. It just makes the commute that much more difficult. I wish every class was on the same page so there would be a level of consistency. Having all of the back and forth and mixed schedules has definitely been hard to adjust to.

What factors contributed to your decision to take in-person classes? When I signed up for classes I honestly had no idea what was in person or not because Hunter hadn’t decided yet. I really had no idea what to expect for the semester and was just hoping for the best.

What are your thoughts on CUNY’s Pandemic precautions? I feel like their pandemic precautions have been as best as they can be pretty much. At this point there’s not a lot you can do besides social distance, wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and get vaccinated. I like that they’re requiring students to be vaccinated. We need more institutions to push for vaccinations so we can get back to life being somewhat like how we used to know it.

Could you walk me through your first week back at Hunter? Were there any difficulties or surprises? My difficulties my first week were really commuting. Since I wasn’t able to really plan ahead for this semester, I didn’t find a place in the city I can afford, and I didn’t get into the Brookdale dorms. So, coming from upstate everyday has been a hassle. Especially since, two days of the week I only have one class, but with the time it takes to get to school and everything it takes up around 6-7 hours of my day just to take one class.

Picture of security station of one of the Hunter North Building entrances. Picture by Bailey Huebner



Excerpted Passages: President Jennifer Raab’s Communiqué to Faculty and Staff

Fourteen thousand students are enrolled in in-person classes with another 10,000 students attending online or in a hybrid course. Eighty-six percent of students registered for an in-person class are fully vaccinated. The number of approved vaccinated students increases daily, and in 20 percent of in-person sections, all students are fully vaccinated.

“We hope you will continue to remind students who are taking in-person or hybrid classes that they must upload proof of vaccination by September 27, or they will be subject to potential academic withdrawal that could also impact their financial aid and make them ineligible for refunds,” said Raab in the communiqué before students began queuing up at the 68th Street campus.

Students had until October 7, six weeks into the semester, before they had to be fully vaccinated.

Hunter College has to reach out to “many students who have registered for an in-person class but have not yet submitted vaccination information nor signed up to take a CUNY COVID test,” Raab wrote.

Rabb also said, “We are focused on messaging these students so that they upload their information as soon as possible.”

“A considerable number of students registered for hybrid courses” that had not submitted their proof of vaccination at the time of Raab’s e-mail.

Until the October 7th vaccination deadline, unvaccinated faculty, staff and students “will need to continue weekly testing at a CUNY COVID testing center,” said Raab.


Bailey Huebner can be reached at