Higher Education Malpractice
An open letter to the college chancellors across the country.
I was brought up with the belief that educators and academics were always a little smarter and wiser than the rest of us. During the last few months, that philosophy has been shattered! With the US Covid-19 death toll passing 160,000, it’s time we revisit returning to college. This week we’ve seen videos of campus parties with young people ignoring all the safeguards put forth by college administrators. Why would the administrators running our colleges bring thousands of careless students back to campus while the virus is running out of control?
A few months ago, their intentions may have been purer; we all assumed that the pandemic would have run its course by now. But lately, all bets are off with the virus running as strong as a recent hurricane. I have a suggestion that perhaps none of our college campus leaders have thought of, cancel the Fall semester and resume again in the Spring.
Forget about the online nonsense; students want the full college experience. Parents also want their students to get the full in-person college experience. Let’s take Johns Hopkins University; their full-time tuition per semester is $27,675. Yesterday they announced a 10% tuition discount for students to stay home and take courses online. Assuming a 16-credit hour load and 15 weeks of classes, this boils down to an $11.50/hour savings over the $115/hour cost. As a parent, there is no way I’d be paying just over $100/hour for my student to watch an online class from their laptop at home. Online courses are by no means anything like the same quality learning experience as being in the classroom. If I wanted my student to take online classes, there are tens of thousands available; many are free or exceptionally affordable. Granted, they may not be at the same level as an online class from a named university, but they’re far less costly than $100/hour.
Most professors, at least the few I know, hate using online educational platforms. I believe that administrators are going ahead with openings because the revenue from tuition drives everything. None of them wants to do what’s right, stand up, and say NO! Nearly all colleges have healthy endowments, and they could easily coast for one semester, and still pay professors, so they don’t lose their staff. Professors would be thrilled to take a paid sabbatical, even if it had a firm plan to do new research or writing to support their positions.
In the life of a student, what will be the cost of missing 15 weeks of college? Motivated students could do internships. In their heart, the educators agree with many of us but are afraid to stand-up and speak-out. Not only are the students jeopardizing the health of their professors and the support staff, but when they return home, they endanger the health of their parents and grandparents, the most at-risk group. To quote a professor from the School of Public Health at UNC, as published in a recent letter to the editor column in an NC paper: “Even with the mandate to socially distance, wear masks, and wash hands, the college can’t guarantee that students will comply out of class.”
Please, administrators, forget about the tuition for one semester. You can still keep your jobs. Someone will have to continue to keep the system running. Please do the right thing before it is too late. In the meantime, we will not be sending our child back to campus this Fall, regardless of your policy. It would help if you accepted a higher calling. Besides, the life you save may be your own.
Thank you. A concerned parent!