When he answered the phone at 5:10 this morning, Benjamin Blanchet was wide awake. The Engagement Editor at the Spectrum newspaper had been up all night reporting on the changes coming to UB as it follows Governor Cuomo's edict that all SUNY campuses transition to distance learning to reduce potential exposure to the coronavirus. From how classes will be conducted to the potential cancellation of graduation ceremonies, Blanchet says students have a "lingering amount of questions."
Those questions, Blanchet says, aren't focused on "why this happening?" Most seem to understand the impact of the coronavirus. He says students have "individualized questions" about their own course work and campus life.
"The dining level there was, sort of, a chaotic scene," Blanchet said. "Lines...going out the door. Students wanting to spend their dining dollars, not sure if they would be able to get a refund at least from the state."
Professors will need to adapt to life without classrooms for the rest of the semester. Blanchet reports instructors in the English department were trying to prepare earlier this week. "Testing out the online learning experience given that this might be happening."
A graduate student now living off campus, Blanchet faces a different set of complications than campus residents. Continuity in the reporting at Spectrum sits near the top of his priorities. He says the staff gathered Wednesday to discuss the future.
"It could potentially be the last time we were in the office," said Blanchet whose brother, Brenton Blanchet, serves as Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper.
"We're two people that are connected, at least, through the art of journalism, but also through the art of family."