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Where do I go for a class online?

Over the course of the pandemic, I think quite a few people forgot what it means to be a corporeal being with the need to transport a body across hallways and sometimes across the entirety of campus just to get the education they paid for. I know I certainly did — all it took to get from one class to another was closing one tab and opening up another.

This certainly isn’t to say I preferred learning online. It is a lot easier to learn when it’s socially unacceptable (or at least, frowned upon) to be scrolling through Twitter while learning about the importance of Maxwell’s equations. And yet, for one reason or another, some classes are still being held online. I am one of the students in a class held over Zoom, and this class is by far the hardest to attend.

I think we often take the convenience of the internet for granted. There is nothing convenient about sprinting from Building 2 to Building 56 in 10 minutes. But at least in that situation there is a mutual understanding between professor and student that it’s hard to get through half a mile of dense student foot traffic in a short amount of time. Online, it feels like this understanding is missing (whether or not this is a valid feeling). Why should I be late to a class that I could attend from anywhere in the world?

In the first week, I took my Zoom calls in the room that the class was supposed to be held in, only to find in the second week that a new class is now being taught there. Ever since, I have been winging it — from reserving a spot in Hayden Library to sitting outside. Sometimes I will pass by an empty classroom that could easily sit 10 people like me looking for a place to sit and attend lecture online; instead, the room is occupied by a single student psetting with 144 pieces of fresh Hagoromo chalk and a dream for each and every one of them.

There are numerous new policies in place due to COVID, which I completely understand. Nonetheless, it seems like no one talks about the new norms and situations that exist in academic settings: students showing up 30 minutes late to class because they forgot to attest or simply trying to find a place to take a Zoom call. Does MIT’s administration need to fix these issues? Perhaps not. But even acknowledging that these situations exist would take some of the burden off of the student.

Attending online classes should be just as easy as attending in-person ones, if not easier. And yet, twice a week I am stressed out of my mind for 10 minutes while I debate if the class is even worth it.