The members of the Class of 2024 have collectively lost some of the most important cultural and social experiences of our lives. In the United States, as well as in many other places around the world, the end of high school is a once-in-a-lifetime period of celebration and closure. Prom, graduation, senior week, senior trips, signing yearbooks of friends and acquaintances that you may never see again — all of these things signify the end of an era, of childhood. Our class missed out on all of these experiences.
We were thrown out of school abruptly. We were told to go home for two weeks, then a month and then told that we’d never come back. We experienced shoddy attempts at softening the blow, with drive-by graduations and virtual proms thrown by celebrities, which could never replicate the experience that generations before us have enjoyed.
On the other end of that summer, we lost another irreplaceable cultural experience: the beginning of college and our introduction into adulthood. Here at Tufts, many of us were lucky enough to be able to come to campus, but it was by no means a normal first year. Instead of coming to Tufts with my family, decorating my room with them and meeting my roommate and floormates on move-in day, I spent the first two weeks of my college career alone and in quarantine.
COVID-19 has devastated the world, brought considerable loss and destruction to communities and completely altered the ways in which we go about our lives. I know that I and most of my peers have been and will be absolutely willing to do what it takes to keep ourselves and those around us safe. But we also cannot get the past one and a half years back — that irreplaceable transition period of our lives.
Returning to Tufts this year has exacerbated these feelings of loss for many in the Class of 2024. While the Class of 2025 has also had their senior year of high school and first year of college impacted, they are experiencing a much more normal start than we did. As Jake Blum confronted in his recent opinion piece in the Daily, we are sophomores but we are also, in many ways, first-years who are being treated as if we should understand everything that is still so new to us.
The Illumination Ceremony for the Class of 2024 last Wednesday gave us a small taste of the orientation experience we never had. For many, however, it felt like a cold comfort.
Sophomore Sophia Nuñez expressed her own frustration regarding the university’s efforts to make up for what the Class of 2024 missed.
“Unlike the freshman who got a week to meet people and participate in events without conflicts, the sophomore makeup traditions are happening during the actual semester, so many have to miss these milestones due to classes,” Nuñez wrote in an email to the Daily. “While kind in theory, a lot of it seems last minute and poorly planned.”
I ask that Tufts acknowledge our unique situation and the unusual difficulty we’ve had in our transition from childhood to adulthood. I ask that upperclassmen give us a helping hand with everything we never learned in orientation. I ask that the first-years enjoy their first weeks of college but remain aware that sophomores are in a similar position with considerably less support. And I ask the Class of 2024 to be kind, welcoming and friendly to each other as we enter this new social landscape and chapter in our lives.