The Lumberjack student newspaper
Illustration by Jen Kelly

Happy Birthday, Graduation is Canceled

An account from an HSU senior living on campus

An account from an HSU senior living on campus

I woke up on St. Patrick’s day—my birthday—to sobbing. My roommate was curled up on her bed, across the room, crying her eyes out. She cried for half an hour, if not more, because she’d just received the Humboldt State email canceling our graduation and asking students to leave campus if they were able. An achievement she has been working toward for seven years and one I have been busting my ass off for four years was all taken away in seconds. 

Instead of celebrating and going to the bars—in true St. Paddy’s day fashion—I spent the day in quarantine having to tell my family to cancel their plane tickets and Airbnb reservations because I wasn’t going to be able to walk. 

As one of the students left on campus, it’s strange, to say the least. When my roommate and I go for walks or head to get food from OhSNAP!, the university looks like a nightmarish scene from some dystopian novel. Usually, the only people you’ll find walking around campus are construction workers, nurses or other essential HSU staff. Every once in a while there’s the odd student or two, using what little resources are left available on campus.

In front of the health center, a tent is set up to greet all students where they sanitize their hands and grab a face mask before being allowed to enter the building—even students who just need to pick up medication from the pharmacy. 

The only students allowed to be seen at the health center are those who show severe symptoms like a fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing. But for those of us who need regular prescriptions through their pharmacy, be it for anxiety medication, emergency inhalers, birth control pills or other medications they offer, we can still access the pharmacy during their posted hours. 

In my opinion, this is one of the most concerning aspects of COVID-19. Students and community members cannot be tested through campus for the illness unless they are extremely sick, which leaves carriers with less severe symptoms to go untested.

Before campus was closed, my roommate and I came down with a cough and fatigue that wouldn’t seem to go away so we decided to visit the health center to see what was wrong, maybe a bit paranoid that we might have contracted the coronavirus somehow. But who isn’t a little paranoid during this pandemic? 

We were seated outside and only admitted into the entrance of the health center one-by-one. A blood pressure monitor, thermometer and other equipment were set up in the hallway, with two nurses wearing masks and gloves. We were given masks, examined and told that, unfortunately, if we did not show severe symptoms, they were unable to test us. 

In my opinion, this is one of the most concerning aspects of COVID-19. Students and community members cannot be tested through campus for the illness unless they are extremely sick, which leaves carriers with less severe symptoms to go untested.

My roommate and I were told we had post-viral infections and given medicine to treat that, but the truth is, we could very well have had the illness and not known because of arbitrary rules only allowing people very ill to access tests.

I’m still sad that graduation was canceled and I know that it’s a momentous accomplishment that I will never get back. But it’s more important to me that we keep people safe than having the chance to walk across the football field to accept a degree. 

There are “asymptomatic” carriers of COVID-19, meaning there might be tons of people in the area infected with the coronavirus without any knowledge they are sick. There might be people who have mild symptoms who are unable to be tested and are unintentionally spreading illness because they think they aren’t that sick. We aren’t only putting the health of students at risk by not testing those concerned they might have the illness, we are endangering the nurses and doctors who are still working through the health center, members of the community that students might come into contact with while grocery shopping or performing essential tasks during quarantine. 

But this isn’t only a concern in Arcata. The reason behind such arbitrary testing rules is because, as reported by The New Yorker, there is a critical shortage in medical equipment necessary to perform tests. This is why those who are extremely ill are being prioritized over people who don’t show as many symptoms. We simply do not have the resources to test everyone, so people infected with the illness are falling through the cracks, living their normal lives and potentially spreading the illness because they are unaware they even have it.

While those who are sick, but not sick enough, cannot get tests, celebrities who show no symptoms of COVID-19 are allowed to be tested, leaving medical professionals, sick patients and community members to wonder if their lives are less important than the rich.

I’m sitting in my dorm right now going a bit stir-crazy, still trying to find things to do to occupy my time while I practice social distancing in quarantine. Last week, my roommate and I painted canvases to pass the time. I started learning embroidery because I was that bored and today I went to my Zoom English class, then spent the day writing and watching movies with my roommate. We’ve downloaded TikTok just to pass the time.

I’m still sad that graduation was canceled and I know that it’s a momentous accomplishment that I will never get back. But it’s more important to me that we keep people safe than having the chance to walk across the football field to accept a degree. 

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination