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Anticipation Turns to Anger as Students Realize In-Person Learning Actually “Worse”


Photo by UGL_UIUC / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0          

Over the next week, thousands of students will descend upon the hallowed halls of Penn’s historic campus to experience the totality of the Ivy League experience. Gothic architecture, rarefied senior societies, and a raging superiority complex are just a few of the amenities in store for this next wave of scholars. Despite the upheaval and disruption wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is most definitely over, Penn students displayed a commendable resilience and fortitude of spirit in navigating the tumult of online learning. However, a new school year will usher in the return of in-person learning and a return to relative normalcy. Bright eyes and fertile minds will soon populate the countless classrooms that have given us some of the most influential luminaries of past generations. 

Although optimism seems to be the prevailing mood, some students have begun voicing their concerns. Louisa Keys (C ’24) expressed anger at the new reality of having to “actually learn shit,” an experience she felt was best relegated to the past: “These professors are seriously out of their minds if they think the past year prepared us for a legitimate undergraduate education.” Keys relayed some of the key features of her online classes: pausing the camera to rip bong, watching TikTok, and sifting through the SSENSE sale page. “Does that sound like an intellectually enriching experience?” Another central concern for many students is the overall attractiveness of their peers, as they fear that in-person learning will subject them to the “bad vibes” emanating from ugly students.  

Penn has yet to address this growing call for reform. Propositions have included the abolition of higher education and an end to all discursive communication, though many fear these measures are incomplete at best.