How Colleges Can Actually Stay Open

Gabriel Katz

Gabriel Katz

Gabriel Katz is a senior mathematics major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute interested in the NBA, politics, history, and statistics. He is on Twitter

Related Post Roulette

11 Responses

  1. Avatar Max robbins
    Ignored
    says:

    This is an awesome piece, colleges will have a tough time returning fully!Report

  2. Avatar Josh Zak
    Ignored
    says:

    Very insightful and a great point made hereReport

  3. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve seen HR departments do annual training on all sorts of stuff that was intended to check off a box rather than result in workers who were better at dealing with whatever the training had to do with.

    Sit through a powerpoint presentation, watch a short film, get a speech, take a test, sign a form, eat a donut.

    I have enough friends who swim in the corporate seas to have heard stories that other companies, not just the ones I worked at, did similar. (We all had stories about the sexual harassment video where the woman was asking the male newlywed if he were eating enough bananas.)

    While I might be willing to say that this university or that college is doing a bang-up job on the Covid-training front, I can’t help but wonder, as a whole… if the lion’s share of the schools out there aren’t just going to make people watch the presentation then sign the box and then shrug and say “hey, they’re adults… we met our obligation to them, it’s just that they failed to meet their obligations to each other.”Report

  4. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    We were talking with a neighbor, and she mentioned that her son was insistent on going back to college this fall, and it was specifically because of social life. College students have much less trouble with remote communication than older people, probably because they never learned to de-prioritize communications based on the channel (if anything they *prefer* straight text because it lacks the emotional loading and pressure that in-person real-time conversation brings; see, for example, all the articles about how talking on the phone gives them panic attacks.) No, the reason they want to go back to school is to see all their friends and hang out with them.

    And then there’s this, which I saw on Twitter:
    College: “Hey kids, don’t go out and party, if you do then we’ll have to cancel class!”
    18-year-olds: “…”Report

  5. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    A long time ago, I remember a terrible sexual harassment training video that my company made me watch for years. It was so terrible I wrote an email to HR about it. The details don’t matter, but it was, essentially, the case of a “IT guy” who wanted to date a new female hire. In every single instance of his behavior, she did nothing. I understand that the designers had to do this to advance the story line and provide “learning points” for the employee watching the video, but they created a female staffer in the video that was incapable of doing anything to stop his behavior.
    It made the women look completely helpless and incapable of functioning in the world. How many 30 year old women do you know that can’t handle a schmuck trying to pick them up?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      I think it is important to have videos where women act that way.

      Because there are a lot of guys who think, as you do, that if she didn’t like it she’d say something, and she hasn’t said anything therefore she doesn’t not-like it.

      And there are a lot of women who think “if I make a scene about this them I’m the whiner, I’m the complainer, I’m the not-a-team-player, I’m That Bitch, and so maybe if I just passively nod and ‘uh-huh’ and be noncommittally nice then he’ll get the hint that I’m completely uninterested in talking to him, oh no he isn’t getting the hint but what else can I do?”Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    And we have Gabriel from Woostah on line one.

    J/k, I had a friend in college from there and he said it just like I wrote it.

    I largely agree that this would be a common sense solution but because it is a common sense solution, college administrators will not act on it. Instead they will create impossible situations and in the great American tradition, blame the students for showing a lack of “personal responsibility.”

    I appreciate that many universities are between a rock and a hard place unless they have hedge fund sized endowments (HYPS) or were commuter schools (largely the California State University system except Fresno State and Chico State). Residency is baked into the American college experience and most colleges, even those with health endowments would take a real hit to finances by not opening up. 20 percent of Harvards incoming freshman decided to defer admission instead of attending remotely or under current guidelines.Report

  7. fillyjonk fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve been saying for a while that if colleges could encourage/persuade residential students to stay on campus, and if they had good testing, and they could verify that at least the fully-on-campus folks were COVID-free, they should do social activities for them – movie nights, intramural sports, even silly stuff like water balloon fights. Give the students SOMETHING fun, something as a reward for them trying to stay safe.

    One thing I, as a grown-ass adult who should be able to deal (or so I’m told) is suffering very much from is a lack of fun that is an ‘alternative’ to the museum-going, shopping, seeing-people type of fun I did in the before times. (Shopping is off limits because it’s an hour’s round trip and if I go there and the place is too crowded to go in – and the town I’d be going to is a “magnet” for all the surrounding areas with crap shopping).

    i’ve done a little hiking but it’s wicket hot right now.

    But yeah – give the students some reason to feel like whatever sacrifices they are making are seen and appreciated.

    And test the heck out of them! We need better testing and faster testing or this is all going to fail utterly and we’re going to see people get sick, and lawsuits, and the schools having to pivot back to online.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      I think Popehat said it best: “If your reopening plan can be completely destroyed and your precautions rendered utterly useless by 18-year-olds acting the way they always act, maybe your plan was stupid.”

      The problem for a lot of colleges, even ones with healthy endowments, is that they make a little of annual budget from room and board fees. When I was in college we used to call it the bubble because there was not much to do in the surrounding town and it was a bit too far from NYC or Boston to really go down for the weekend. I think the only times I made the trip was when I went home to Long Island for breaks and for one concert my senior year.

      My college’s plan to reopen is making the bubble much more literal and not letting students leave campus, plenty of testing, and quarantine. Apparently students form high risk states needed to come two weeks early and quarantine in dorm rooms as compared to students from less risky states. A colleague’s daughter is a college freshman at a large university in the Midwest and he said the food is all to go. I imagine my alma mater is doing packed meals to go as well.

      But you will still have students in dorms on nights and those students will be bored staying in their rooms. They will get out and socialize. And the ones who haven’t seen their college boyfriend or girlfriend for months, they are going to want to fuck like bunnies. Even those that did not have one, will be horny as hell.

      Another issue is that being outdoors generally seems to be safe but drinking and marijuana do lower inhibitions and that will make students get close, etc.

      All of this assumes relatively rural campuses with a distinct plan. What about urban universities that are just a smattering of buildings spread across city blocks like NYU, The New School, GW, etc. Even lots of urban schools with distinct campuses are smack dab in the middle of cities like Cal, USF, Columbia, Harvard, etc.

      The most prudent plan was probably to go remote for the fall (likely the entire 2020-2021 academic year). No one wanted to do this because you would see a large number of students elect to take deferred admission or a gap year. I saw the statement from the head of NYU’s board of trustees after UNC shut down. It basically said (via reading between the lines), “No one pays NYU tens of thousands of dollars a year for zoom classes.* People pay NYU tens of thousands of dollars a year for the chance to live in the middle of NYC.” I imagine that the sentiment is shared by admins at most universities except schools that were already commuter schools.

      *From what I’ve heard from college professors, zoom classes are just as hard to plan for as live lectures, perhaps more so.Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        totally remote Zoom lectures are much, much harder and more exhausting than normal teaching. Even with me in a room alone so I am allowed to doff my mask. I walk out of my intro bio class absolutely DESTROYED because there’s so little interaction with the students – even with chat, even with telling people to ask questions – and because there’s the anxiety of “is the tech going to keep working?” I’ve done this class for four meetings so far this fall and I am ready to be done.

        I would hate doing this on the regular. No, I would quit if I had to do this for more than a year, and go do something else with my life. I am really hoping there is something like an effective vaccine before 2022. Zoom lectures suck the life out of me.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    The abstinence metaphor is flawed, because you’re not making the distinction between abstinence and abstinence-only education.

    I’d guess that every college is willing to hand out masks, and post flyers about safe interaction. No college is withholding information or recommending isolation. What you’re suggesting college do is the equivalent of organizing sex parties. Kids are going to do it anyway, we might as well help them.

    In my experience, admittedly a long time ago, most college socialization takes place in dorm rooms. College students don’t have the right to break the law, and universities don’t have the obligation to assist them in doing so. If you set foot on campus, you have a non-zero chance of getting coronavirus (although you have a nearly zero chance of dying from it, if you’re in the 15-24 year age bracket). Every person is responsible for making prudent decisions about his safety.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *