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The negligence of universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The negligence of universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The negligence of universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic
October 02
11:00 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to see the true intentions of many entities in society. One of the entities that have shown their intentions and gross negligence has been colleges and universities. 

Negligence from colleges and universities have taken form in many ways, with one being charging students full tuition when the value of classes has changed significantly. Having an in-person class is very different from having a class being held remotely or adapting to an in-person class online. The value decreases significantly due to several factors. In-person, the professor can be more engaging with their students and keep their attention better. There are fewer risks of technical difficulties occurring as well. Some courses for certain degrees require hands-on instruction are not of the same value when these courses are offered online. 

The main issue with paying full tuition for remote and online classes is we are paying thousands of dollars and increasing personal debt to be sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. Many students are having a very difficult time learning due to the many stressors brought about by the pandemic. In fact, many classes are putting out a multitude of assignments and at least for me personally, it feels like I am doing assignments for the sake of doing them and getting a grade, not because these assignments are actually teaching me the content of value. 

This is not the case for every single student or for all classes, but comparing the number of assignments in remote and online classes to the assignments given in in-person classes, there is a significant difference in the value and quantity. We are also charged for our use of certain facilities. These fees should also have been reduced because some students have all remote or online classes, so the likelihood of them being on campus and having to use these facilities is low to nonexistent. On the whole, students should not have been charged full tuition for the fall 2020 semester. 

Universities and colleges charging students full tuition is a form of negligence because many students did not qualify for a stimulus check from the government, lost their jobs and do not have the means of paying thousands of dollars for this semester. Telling these students to simply take a gap semester is also unempathetic because not all students have the luxury to take a gap semester. The argument that in-person traffic needs to be reduced is very valid as no university would want to expose thousands of students to a virus and keep them in close proximity. However, if universities genuinely cared about our well-being, they would not have welcomed freshmen back to campus, continue residence life and have an entire football season. 

Speaking of which, beginning a new football season is negligent since it is much harder to follow the CDC protocols of wearing a mask at all times and social distancing in a stadium. It is also unfair how college football teams can get tested three times a week for free while the rest of the student body, who are on campus and are not athletes, only have opportunities to get tested within campus grounds once a week, possibly less. Many will argue football teams should get tested more often because of their close proximity to each other. It’s a valid argument but perhaps we should not be holding a football season in the first place if it’s risky for those involved. 

The lack of empathy and negligence is not limited to university administration. It extends as far as professors who expect undivided work ethic from students for their class. Professors understandably want their students to work hard in their class and rightfully so: they are paying for the class. However, there are professors unempathetic to the troubles students may run into during the pandemic or are not willing to accommodate deadlines given the physical or mental stressors they may be facing. 

Ultimately, many colleges and universities are continuously taking advantage of students. Students should not have been required to pay full tuition when everyone knew the quality of education would be much different. Many could say it is surprising universities took a much more blunt “profit over the well-being of students” stance during this pandemic but, truthfully, we should not be surprised when many universities have transitioned into being more for-profit over time.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Eunice Hernandez

Eunice Hernandez

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