Porter Wagoner, singing about a chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend, quickly bade farewell. "I've enjoyed as much of this as I can stand," he tells her.
College students are singing the same song. The COVID pandemic has been with us for almost two years, and Omicron promises to prolong the disruption well into 2022.
This week, several colleges announced that final exams for the fall semester would be online, and classes at some schools were temporarily switched to online formats earlier in the fall term.
NYU recently banned all "discretionary, nonessential nonacademic gatherings," presumably allowing nonessential academic meetings to proceed. At some schools, students who meet friends over pizza and beer at an off-campus dive run the risk of being suspended from their classes.
Since the campus closings in March 2020, students have sued more than 300 colleges, demanding their money back. Specifically, they want tuition refunds for classes that switched from face-to-face classroom settings to an online format.
They also want their fees refunded--the fees they paid for access to campus recreation centers, varsity sporting events, and collegiate health clinics. You closed all these venues, the students argue, but you kept our goddam money.
As I have said since the beginning of the pandemic, I sympathize with the universities. College leaders acted reasonably when they closed their campuses in the spring of 2020, cleared out the dorms, and sent students home.
But the students who got booted paid big bucks to take classes during the 2020 spring semester. At the private schools, tuition bills were north of 25 grand! Many students shelled out $30,000 for the dubious privilege of matriculating at snooty universities for four months when you tack on housing, fees, and books.
Colleges responded reasonably to a public health crisis when they closed down in March of 2020, but they need to understand that it costs too damn much to go to college these days. Students will put up with this banditry when they can stroll through elm-shaded campus quads and listen to gassy professors opining in quaint, wood-paneled classrooms.
But they ain't gonna put up with face-to-face college classes periodically going online or rules that prevent them from meeting their friends off-campus. Not for long anyway.
College enrollments are already down significantly from pre-pandemic levels. Men, in particular, are increasingly deciding to sit out of college until the chaos comes to an end.
What can colleges do to entice students to continue taking out loans to pay their tuition bills? They can start by publicly admitting that online classes are inferior to on-campus learning and lowering their prices accordingly.
|Porter Wagoner: "I've enjoyed as much of this as I can stand!"|
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