To quote a fellow student, this year  has been “a flaming dumpster fire.” Upon hearing this statement, I began using this phrase quite a lot because I have never heard anything truer. Both as individuals and collectively, this year has certainly been one for the history books. With ups, downs, twists and turns behind every corner, I thought it would be interesting to write a 2020 year-in-review article. With so many major events, I am bound to miss some, but here goes nothing. By Gillian Mazur Managing editor Looking back on the year 2020
As soon as the New Year’s Eve ball dropped, everyone suspected the best year of their lives was starting. The Roaring 20s, here we come! Unfortunately, unbeknown to the world, this month was the start of a very long year. In foreign news, flash floods hit Indonesia in the early hours of the new year, killing over 66 people (Jan. 1). Rumors of WWIII breaking out also began to spark after Qasem Soleimani’s death was caused by an American airstrike (Jan. 3). While these whispers may not have come to fruition, it certainly seemed to have spread like wildfire on social media, in particular Twitter, where “ #WorldWarThree” began to trend. One event that occurred domestically was President Trump’s impeachment trial (Jan. 16). Later this month tragedy struck and basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven others (Jan. 26). For our southern neighbors, a deadly 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit Cuba (Jan. 28). Additionally, Brexit finally occurred for our European neighbors, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Jan 31). The year literally began in flames with the Australian bush fires that ravaged the country. In Mercyhurst news, this was one of the last “normal” months that occurred for most before the chaos of 2020 really hit.
Ah Feb., the long and eventful month of Jan. was finally over. Time to really start the year, but wait, we are just getting started. Trump was acquitted (Feb. 5) but tension in this soon-to-be highly heated political year was just beginning. Primary elections began to show the true contestants for the Democratic party (Feb. 25). In foreign news, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China began to make its way into domestic news with the first death in the U.S. from the virus with no prior travel history (Feb. 26). In Mercyhurst’s world, this was the last month of big gatherings. Hollywood rapist and ex-film producer Harvey Weinstein also faced trial and was convicted of his crimes of raping and sexually abusing a TV and film production assistant, which was a huge step in the #MeToo movement (Feb. 24).
Mar. seems to be the month where all went wrong and all hell broke loose. Globally, the entire world just stopped as more and more people began to get sick. Celebrities and regular folk alike tried to remain upbeat in a “we’re all in this together attitude.” Whether it was fighting for toilet paper in the grocery stores or the sudden realization of the lack of hand sanitizer, the entire world for once seemed to grind to a halt overnight. This immediate stoppage of all business ultimately led to the climax of the global stock market crash, also known as the Coronavirus Crash (Feb. 20- April 7). On Mar. 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic and, for weeks, nothing else seemed to matter. Businesses and schools transitioned to online learning, Mercyhurst being one of them. On Mar. 16, President Victor sent out a campus-wide email stating that Mercyhurst would be transitioning to online instruction for the rest of the semester. As Mercyhurst’s international students panic-packed and frantically said goodbye to their friends before borders closed, many local students chose to go home for what was supposed to be a two-week break.
Four months into 2020 and it seems events of trial and tribulations are more common than not. After a few weeks in lockdown, it became apparent that some people care for others’ well-being more than thy neighbor. This is the month in which protests for the return to normalcy began. Masks became commonplace and social-distancing became a way of life. At the beginning of April, COVID cases hit one million worldwide and by the end of the month, the U.S. had over one million cases itself. After months of limited business operations, an unemployment crisis became apparent. With the first round of stimulus checks being sent out to people on Mar. 21, the amount of money was short-lived relief, since $1,200 can only stretch so far.
Another month of pain, this is the month that hearts were shattered and racial divides and differences in morals in the U.S. became abundantly clear. The floodgates opened with the death of one man, George Floyd, who was wrongfully murdered in an encounter with the Minneapolis police (May 25). The death was heard round the world; the Black Lives Matter movement took off, soaring to new heights. A reckoning for human rights was coming in cities and suburbs both large and small, all while the global pandemic raged on. In a clearly divided America, the Black Lives Matter movement became arguably one of the largest movements in U.S. history. Names such as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahumad Aubrey and more circulated online and in the news as more and more stories of injustice surfaced, adding more fuel to the fire. Peaceful protests, dangerous riots and looting ensued. In addition to the fight for social justice and human rights, with COVID still looming on the horizon, a new addition of news of murder hornets entering the U.S. switched up the headlines. Two inches in length, these deadly Asian hornets were first seen colonizing in Washington state.
Just because the calendar flipped did not mean that the events of the previous month ended. The events of May crashed into June as other countries continued to unite under three little words: Black Lives Matter. The people took change into their own hands and eventually talks of reform and better accountability began to surface in both the local and federal governments. With racial tensions at its peak, the Trump administration decided to host an in-person campaign rally in an already historically significant racially charged area: Tulsa, Oklahoma (June 20). With many people fighting the good fight, the Gen Z’ers of TikTok decided to take matters into their own hands. Bragging about over 1 million ticket reservations, users of the mobile app TikTok decided to organize a stunt to troll the President, and it worked. This proved not only the power of the platform but also how strong Gen Z and its allies are when they work together towards a common goal.
Halfway through the year, nothing too eventful happened. With racial and political tensions still at an all-time high, on the Fourth of July, “#AllCountriesMatter” was ranked third trending on Twitter. Post-trolling the President, this began the unofficial, yet official war between Gen Z, Trump and the uber-popular app, TikTok. This month the U.S. first looked to ban TikTok among other Chinese social media apps due to “security issues” (July 9). One happy thing that occurred is during the month of July is that Walt Disney World in Florida reopened to the public (July 11). Another celebrity to pass away during this month was Glee actress Naya Rivera. Her body was found after a six-day search, the seventh anniversary of the death of fellow Glee co-star, Cory Monteith, after her young son Josey was found on a boat alone at Lake Piru in Ventura County, CA (July 8).
To add more terrible tragedy to the year, in August the city of Beirut, Lebanon was struck to its core when massive explosions filled the air with the accidental detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, killing almost 200 people (Aug. 4). This month domestic news included Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, choosing his running mate and VP, Kamala Harris. This decision was historic because she is a woman, and a person of color of black and Asian descent (Aug. 11). To many shocked fans’ dismay, “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman also passed at age 43 (Aug. 28). Keeping with the “the world is literally on fire” theme from January, deadly wildfires erupted in California all the way to Washington State, torching millions of acres of land and displacing thousands of people (Aug. through Sept.).
To add to the list of influential and powerful figures’ deaths, Supreme Court Justice and woman’s rights trailblazer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, passed at the age of 87 (Sept. 18). As the second woman ever appointed to the high court, her death rocked millions as political tensions rose higher and higher. With the conservative administration in charge, many mourned as they worried about their rights being stripped away upon her death. Mercyhurst’s very own Black Students for Unity (BSU) organized a successful Mercy March for Black Lives in conjunction with Moralyzer to help spread awareness of the racial injustices many black Americans face (Sept. 21).
On Oct. 2, Trump announced that both he and Melania as well as a good portion of the White House staff tested positive for COVID-19. After three days, he was discharged from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and sent to continue his recovery at the White House. In Mercyhurst’s realm, President Michael T. Victor announced his plans to the Mercyhurst community to retire upon the completion of the 2020-2021 school year (Oct. 19).
In Mercyhurst news, November was “Erie-ly” similar to March, the month that it all began. This month, the University announced a second big cluster of COVID-19 cases among the student body. In conjunction with the rising cases in Erie county, the University decided to implement additional precautions similar to the start of the semester effective at Nov. 5 at 9 p.m. until Nov. 11 (Nov. 5). From Nov. 6 to Nov. 9, the number of cases on campus spiked from 54 to 67 students and from 4 to 6 employees, which led to the decision to finish the school year with online remote learning (Nov. 9). In U.S. news, the very divided United States turned out in droves for the 2020 Presidential Election. Joseph R. Biden is now the projected President-Elect and Vice President-Elect is Kamala Harris (Nov. 7). Not only was history made by this announcement, but the glass ceiling was also shattered by Harris, becoming not only the first female VP to be elected, but also the first female person of color to take office in the White House. Trump’s campaign team held one last press conference, at the three-star Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot in Philadelphia, PA (Nov. 7). Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and BioNTech also announced very hopeful news this month, a COVID-19 vaccine proving to be 90% effective in preventing the COVID-19 infection based on data from an initial study (Nov. 9).
With one final month before the year ends, one can only guess what major events will happen to round the year off. I can only hope that after the nightmare-inducing year that this has been that the light on the other side of this very long and very dark tunnel is bright. Cheers to a hopefully better and brighter new year, 2021!