Here’s a hopeful story about the University’s response to the virus that is plaguing our planet.
Thursday evening, March 12, an old friend of my family and mine from summers in Maine (“old” though, in fact, young — a Princeton freshman) asked my wife and me to store much of his college gear — books, racquets, golf clubs, clothes, artwork, and more books — until September because his first year of college was suddenly and shockingly over.
On the drive from campus to our house and back, my friend and I spoke about various things — rowing (his latest athletic love); his summer plans (doing an internship, helping out on the family farm in Virginia, spending time on the Maine coast); teen foolishness on Nautilus Island (no comment, but he was not involved); The Decameron (on which he’d just written a paper); his family (adventurous, intellectual, close-knit); and, of course, COVID-19 (the rogue elephant in the room).
On the last topic, my friend said that nearly all the news he’d heard in the preceding week was very bad. But he also said that he’d heard from his coach and a couple of his professors that the University seemed to be handling the medical, pedagogical, financial, and logistical challenges very well indeed. He’d also heard that President Eisgruber had risen to these unprecedented challenges. “Chris Eisgruber,” the freshman said, “agonized over the hard choices” that he and his leadership team had to make in a time of intense flux and fear, both locally and globally.
Rising “to the challenges” when so many things are going so quickly and dangerously wrong makes for some good news from a week mauled by a lot of bad news. This was the week millions of students around the nation and the world learned to spell the word “pandemic” and use it in a sentence.