Paul L. Caron

Monday, August 24, 2020

North Carolina, Notre Dame Are Just The Beginning: COVID-19 Decimates Fall On-Campus Plans As South Bend Student Newspaper Pleads, 'Don't Make Us Write Obituaries'

Following Up On Wednesday's post, North Carolina, Notre Dame Bail On In-Person Classes:

CoronavirusChronicle of Higher Education, Chapel Hill and Notre Dame Are Just the Beginning:

[L]earning in person this fall may be harder to pull off than some college leaders anticipated. Should other colleges take the experiences of UNC and Notre Dame, which started their semesters relatively early, as a warning?

Public-health experts interviewed by The Chronicle responded with a resounding “yes.”

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Student Blaming Has Begun: Is It Fair to Fault College Students For COVID-19 Outbreaks?:

[I]n a week that saw a growing number of colleges reverse course in the wake of Covid-19 outbreaks and move classes online, colleges fearing they might be next scolded students for unsafe socializing. Student-conduct codes were hurriedly revamped to include suspension and expulsion for the most egregious cases.

The message was clear: It was students’ behavior that was jeopardizing universities’ painstaking plans to offer a safe, in-person semester. ...

At the same time that blame and responsibility were piling on, critics were questioning whether it was fair to fault college students for doing what students naturally do, especially when they’ve been cooped up with their parents for months, away from their friends and eager for a “real” college experience.

And should college administrators shoulder much of the blame for bringing students back in the midst of a pandemic and expecting radical changes in their behavior? ...

Administrators who defend the decision to crack down on unsafe socializing suggest that critics might be selling students short, assuming they aren’t capable of behaving responsibly.

Wall Street Journal, Colleges Worried About Covid-19 Cases Tell Students to Stop Partying:

Leaders of colleges and universities are issuing desperate demands to students to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus on campus: Wear masks and rein in your back-to-school partying—or go home.

The messaging accompanies new outbreaks at schools around the country as students return to campus, leading several this week to halt on-campus instruction and punish some rule breakers. ...

In two of the harshest rebukes so far, Purdue University on Thursday suspended 36 students who attended an off-campus party, and Syracuse University suspended 23 in connection with a large gathering on the quad.

New York Times, Stop Campus Partying to Slow the Virus? Colleges Try but Often Fail:

Struggling to salvage some normalcy — and revenue — from a crippling pandemic, many colleges and universities are inviting students into dorms and classrooms. The limited openings, being tried by more than a third of the country’s 5,000 campuses, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, have come with strict rules: No parties. Mandated coronavirus tests or routine self-checks for symptoms. No setting foot into public spaces without masks.

But early outbreaks at dozens of colleges have underscored the yawning gap between policy and enforcement — and the limitations of any college to control the behavior of young people who are paying for the privilege to attend classes.

On-campus restrictions are being undermined by off-campus partying. Student codes of conduct are being signed and promptly forgotten. Day-to-day policing is often falling to teaching assistants and residential advisers who have mixed feelings about confronting scofflaw undergraduates sitting in the front row or living in the next dorm room. ...

But education officials say it is generally not in the nature of colleges and universities to function like police states.

The Observer Editorial, Don’t Make Us Write Obituaries:

We longed to return to South Bend while in quarantine last semester. Now, we are at risk of hurting the community we’ve come to know and love.

We implore members of the tri-campus community to do everything within their power to approach this virus in an appropriate and serious manner. Otherwise, we fear the worst is yet to come.

Don’t make us write a tri-campus employee’s obituary.
Don’t make us write an administrator’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a custodian’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a dining hall worker’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a professor’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a classmate’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a friend’s obituary.
Don’t make us write a roommate’s obituary.
Don’t make us write yours.

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