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Last updateWed, 21 Apr 2021 3pm

Editorial

Protecting Our Planet: Why Earth Day is Important

Protecting Our PlanetOn April 22, Earth Day is celebrated around the globe as a way to honor Mother Earth, and to show support for environmental protection. The holiday was first held in the 1970s, and has since become an annual commemoration celebrated by nearly 1 billion people in over 90 countries.

While for some, Earth Day is celebrated once a year, but for many Earth lovers, it is observed every day. One editor said, “Everyday definitely should be Earth Day, especially as we learn more information about the ongoing climate crisis that’s become continually more out of hand and irreparable.

Another editor said that she celebrates Earth Day everyday by working to maintain a lower carbon footprint. Similarly, another editor said that she celebrates the Earth on a daily basis by recycling, refraining from littering, and investing in eco-friendly products.

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Was Two Days of Spring Break Enough?

default article imageSince Monmouth readjusted their Spring schedule due to COVID-19 travel and safety rules, students only had two “Spring Break” days this semester; one Monday in March and one Friday in April. With the absence of an actual seven-day long Spring Break, this left many Monmouth students disappointed. One student even orchestrated a petition to get Monmouth officials to change their minds in hopes of offering Monmouth a full week-long spring break.

Spring break is a time to unwind, practice leisurely activities, and overall recover from the challenges that come with being a student. The past three semesters have been strenuous for college students since the pandemic hit, especially with the obstacles that come with both virtual learning and being a young adult. With most of the editors being seniors ready to graduate, many of them felt strongly about this year’s “Spring break”.

All of the editors agreed that Monmouth’s Spring break decision was justifiable due to reducing the spread of COVID-19.

One editor said, “Although I would have preferred a week-long spring break to relax and/or catch up on work, I do agree with Monmouth’s decision to include the two break days instead. Hopefully, it prevented people from traveling. If people caught covid during a spring break trip, came back to Monmouth, and spread it, then cases could have risen drastically.”

Another editor said, “I would say I agree with it because I understand their reasoning. Ever since that off campus super spreader event that happened last semester, Monmouth is clearly in no rush to encourage kids to travel in groups with their friends and return back to the campus community. No spring break helps discourage kids from going out.”

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Should Monmouth Mandate Vaccines?

default article imageAs COVID-19 vaccines become more accessible to the general population, some universities have announced a requirement for upcoming fall students to be vaccinated.

Rutgers was the first New Jersey school to require students to receive a vaccine. It is unknown at this time if Monmouth University plans to follow suit, but President Leahy has expressed an interest in attempting as “normal” of a fall semester as possible.

One editor stated that they would prefer Monmouth to require vaccinations for upcoming students. “I would feel incredibly comfortable coming back to school if everyone was required to get vaccinated and to show proof,” the editor said. “I feel like college aged students are the most prone to getting it in the first place since everyone is within close exposure to one another.”

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Marijuana Not Permitted on Campus

default article imageOn Feb. 22nd, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the legalization of cannabis for both medical use and recreational use. On March 18, Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, sent out an email to all Monmouth University students regarding the new legalization of non-medical marijuana for people age 21 and older. The email stated that the University will not permit the use of marijuana on campus or at University-owned properties. The email also mentioned that the University is subject to the Federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

Nagy also provided a statement from the law which is, “Consumption of marijuana is prohibited in any area of any building of, on the grounds of, or in any facility owned, leased, or controlled by, any public or private institution of higher education or a related entity thereof, regardless of whether the area or facility is an indoor place or is outdoors.”

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Concert Life Post-COVID 19

default article imageWith the world slowly opening up again due to COVID-19 vaccinations, people realize it has been a while since they were around large groups of people, like during concerts. The idea of going to concerts again not only excites people, but scares them too.

Although the world is not there yet to open everything back up at full capacity, it is an idea that crosses people’s minds of what life will be like again. The majority of The Outlook’s editorial staff said that they are now nervous and anxious being around people in general.

One editor said, “I do get nervous being around people, because you never know if someone is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. When you are around a person, especially without a mask, you are exposed to everyone they were exposed to.”

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Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

default article imageStudents had to make the unexpected change to online learning last year. Online learning is broken down into two types of classes: synchronous, where students meet at a certain time on a certain day; and asynchronous, where students do the work as they please as long as it is submitted by the deadline. In synchronous courses, students meet with their class in real time and engage in a semi-normal classroom interaction.

Some students enjoy asynchronous learning, while others prefer synchronous. The editors are split 50/50 on whether they prefer asynchronous classes or synchronous classes. One Outlook editor commented, “I prefer synchronous classes because it gives the same feeling of meeting in person, and we are being taught the material through conversation. I feel that I have a much clearer sense of what I need to do with synchronous classes. Asynchronous classes make me anxious that I am missing materials or assignments.”

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COVID-19 Pandemic: One Year Later

default article imageIt’s been a full year since the University, and the world for that matter, shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic seemingly being on its last legs, some editors still worry for their job prospects after graduation.

“I am not graduating this semester; however I feel like the job industry has drastically suffered since this pandemic has started,” they said. “The amount of people who have gotten laid off since this pandemic has started astounds me.”

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Are Students Being Overworked?

default article imageWith the changes students have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it begs the question: are students being overworked?

This pandemic has been a transition for professors and students alike, who are both trying to find balance. Some students have suggested that professors expect too much, overloading them with assignments. Meanwhile, professors have to provide classwork and homework for students on top of exams, papers, and so much more. How do professors know when enough is enough?

“I feel like professors are assigning the same amount of work than if we were in person,” one Outlook editor commented. “It just feels harder to manage because we were thrown into this virtual environment that many of us were not used to and/or don’t like.”

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The Effect of Remote Learning on Professors

default article imageHalfway through our third COVID-riddled semester, conversation on adapting to the new remote formats is often centered on the students. It makes sense, but professors have had trouble adapting too. Logging into a Zoom call is one thing, but setting them up and coordinating with students is a whole new beast for many faculty.

One editor feels bad for the professors being tossed into this new remote environment. “They were not trained to do this,” the editor said. “For them, it is all learning the material on their own. They are not receiving the credit they deserve on this. I truly feel that they deserve more recognition than they are given.”

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The Release of the New COVID-19 Vaccines

default article imageThe COVID-19 vaccines have been rolling out since Dec. 14, and there has been a constant debate about whether people want to receive it yet.

 The FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) has approved two COVID-19 vaccines to be released to the public. One is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the other is the Moderna vaccine. The United States vaccination program plans to have 100 million people vaccinated by April.

Whether or not people want to get the vaccine as of now is still up for debate. One editor said, “I am planning on getting the vaccine whenever it becomes available to me. The more who get vaccinated, the faster we can move on from this virus.”

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Extension of the Pass/Fail Grading System

default article imageAs we approach the third semester impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has decided to extend the pass/fail grading system for undergraduate students through May 14, 2021. This allows students to change standard letter grades (A through D-) to a “pass” grade at the end of the semester without affecting their GPA. Students can only use a “pass” grade for four credits this semester.

This grading system was introduced in the spring 2020 semester, when classes were shifted to online instruction following spring break.

As The Outlook reported in fall 2020, according to Monmouth’s Registrar Lynn Reynolds, the majority of the grades that were requested to be switched to a “pass” in the spring 2020 semester were in the C range with 775 pass requests, followed by B grades with 471 pass requests, D grades with 323 pass requests, and A grades with 26 pass requests.

“The decision to allow pass/fail grading takes into consideration the disruption to academics that COVID-19 and subsequent societal impacts have had, and it’s designed to provide options that we hope will relieve some stress,” the University outlined in its official reopening plan for 2020-2021. “We recognize that the learning environments in which students may find themselves during the continued pandemic may lead to students not working at their normal performance level.”

The Outlook editors weighed in on their thoughts about this grading system.

This option may help students’ GPA during the challenges of untraditional online classes. However, some editors believe that enough time has passed for students to have gotten used to online classes, and therefore the pass/fail option would not be necessary. “I think the pass/fail option should only pertain to first-year students since they haven’t been exposed to enough online schooling in a university setting,” one editor said.

First-year students have had to face multiple obstacles regarding online learning, as they may also be struggling with the general transition into college that includes making friends, getting connected on campus, and keeping up with academics.

Some editors said that they will consider utilizing the pass/fail grading system this semester depending on their performance in a certain class. “I have used it in the past to boost my GPA, but I do not foresee using it in the future,” one editor said. However, another editor said that they would not utilize this grading system, but recognizes that it may be beneficial for others.

Some students might not be able to fully utilize this option, however, such as those who will be applying to certain graduate schools that require letter grades or those who need to meet prerequisite requirements for their major.

One editor disagrees with the policy that the pass/fail grade can only be used for four credits this semester. “I find that only being able to use it for four credits is wrong, as most classes are three credits and someone may need it for more than one class,” the editor said. “It should be able to be used for as many classes as needed.”

Many editors agree that the pass/fail option should be eliminated once the University returns to full in-person instruction. For now, however, most editors agree that it is a necessary safety net for students who are struggling during the pandemic. The University made the right choice by extending this grading system for the spring 2021 semester.

 

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

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