Westmont College goes online


Ella Jennings, The Horizon

Sneak peak into Westmont’s newest hyperrealistic VR technology

Simeon Michelson, Capstone Writer

Starting this January, students at Westmont College will have the opportunity to extend their Christmas break … indefinitely! While many students already use technology in chapel and during class, starting next semester, they’ll have the chance to go fully virtual.

An anonymous professor commented, “So many of my students multitask during class on their devices, it’s clear we’re giving them exactly what they want! Now, they’ll be able to shop for those avocado stickers from Etsy, without disrupting the classroom!” 

The new virtual world is sponsored by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and will utilize the company’s new Metaverse in combination with Westmont’s own VR technology to create a “Montverse” that simulates the Westmont experience.

For example, students will be able to enter a virtual DC and make a selection from “Bite” by Sodexo products, which will be delivered via drone to their homes. Since a key part of the Westmont experience is the residential campus, the meal plan will remain compulsory.

Students will also be required to receive a GPS implant by which RAs will routinely locate and monitor them. Additionally, the virtual world will feature realistic representations of State Street and Isla Vista. Unfortunately due to copyright law, UCSB will be renamed “PartyCity.”

Fortunately, most faculty are on board with the switch. Many voiced their excitement at the prospect of continuing to use their COVID-19 syllabi and lesson plans, most of which entail showing hour-long videos then assigning a Canvas journal for homework.

Dr. Patterson of the computer science department commented, “I’m so glad the college is finally catching up to what I’ve been doing for years! My students just love attending class virtually.”

Jason Tavarez delightedly expressed that “the online move will virtually eliminate all COVID-19 risks, as long as students continue to wear their masks while at home.” With the decreased COVID-19 risk, Tavarez will remain on staff to address hacking concerns. 

Just like the video games students can’t get enough of, they will be able to convert real money into “Beebe Bucks” to use in the Montverse. They can spend the cryptocurrency on mandatory virtual parking passes, or exclusive digital Westmont collectables, which can be worn by students’ avatars.

For example, the “Maroon Warrior Hoodie with Ketchup Stain” will retail for 24 Beebe Bucks (BB), which is about $245. Additionally, the school administration recently approved three basic avatar choices for students. Students will be able to choose between “Sleek Scott,” “Brawny Beebe,” and “Electric Edee.” For only 30BB, or $1,000, students can unlock another 200 avatars, including “Rambunctious Ruth” and “The Pickle Tree.” 

Chapel will be conducted virtually, which will allow the campus pastor’s office to continue to bring in exciting speakers. The first week’s lineup features televangelism by Joel Osteen, a hologram of Abraham Lincoln reading the 13th Amendment, and a massive projection of Scott Lisea Zooming in from a cruise ship somewhere in the Bahamas.

Additionally, in order to combat low chapel attendance, students will receive a “holiness score” from 1-10, based on an algorithm that factors in their chapel attendance, the number of times they say “thank you” to virtual Sodexo staff, and the number of swear words they use around faculty.

Students who score a perfect “10” will be rewarded with a virtual recreation of their Westmont Wow and a free in-game diamond ring with which to propose. 

While all programs will change slightly, most will remain relatively familiar. For example, Fall Formal and Spring Sing will both be adapted for virtual reality, and Westmont sports teams will shift their focus towards esports. Coach Smelley will now coach the “Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games” team. Fourth-year Jason Peterson, Dream Rafting specialist, will lead the rafting team as the members face off against Level 9 computer-generated avatars from PartyCity.

Likewise, Westmont’s new nursing program will move to an online certification process. Students will learn public health skills while navigating the rigorous Plague, Inc. simulator. As we all know, if a nurse knows how to start a plague, they’ll know how to end it.

As you can see, Wesmont students have an exciting future ahead. While there may be some glitches in the system, such as the “Chair in the DC Tree” or the Warthog mascot, Westmont is committed to continual improvement, and will unveil new updates and features soon, including a brand new Henri Nouwen v2.0: Great Dane edition.

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