College Campuses Must Reopen This Fall

Story by Ben Fyke, Staff Writer/Editor/Social Media Manager

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education has been hit especially hard. College students across the country were hastily sent home from their campuses in March and have been enduring distance learning since. For many, their belongings sit locked in their dorm rooms. Graduation ceremonies have been postponed or outright cancelled. To say the least, it is not a great time to be a college student.

There is also great uncertainty surrounding the reopening of college campuses in the fall. As information about the virus changes by the day, the decision to move students back on campus come August becomes harder to make. Given that it is safe to do so, college campuses should reopen in the fall. If they do not, the institution of higher education will crumble.

Colleges and universities are already experiencing severe financial hardship during this “half semester” of distance learning. Since no one is living on campus (for the most part), many students are demanding– and getting– refunds on room and board. Some students are also demanding a partial refund on tuition since they did not receive the in-person instruction they paid for. Imagine if this model were employed at institutions for a full semester: students are only billed for discounted tuition and no room and board. This model would be unsustainable and many colleges would be forced to shut down after taking such substantial losses.

It is also important that incoming college freshmen receive a traditional, on-campus experience during their first semester. As seniors, they have already suffered the loss of the last quarter of their senior year. Proms, banquets, and other major events have been cancelled and crucial last months of high school have been taken away. It is only fair that these students are guaranteed a normal transition to college, no matter how modified it may be.

Campuses will surely look different if they reopen in the fall. To some extent, social distancing will be required. Masks may be required and regular temperature checks might become the norm. However, it is paramount that higher education returns to normal this fall. In these crazy times, normalcy should be maintained whenever possible.