I knew nothing about aviation. I figured--incorrectly--that the pilots were the experts and I crawled into many a small, antiquated airplane without a thought about the danger I might be in.
But my senior partner set me straight. "Richard," he said:
You are responsible for your own safety. Before you get in a plane make your own assessment about whether the plane is overloaded or whether flying conditions are less than optimal. If you don't feel safe, don't get in the airplane.That was good advice, and I'm passing it on to young people who plan to enroll in college this fall. Every American university has adjusted its curriculum in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of teaching will be delivered online, through Zoom, or in socially-distanced class spaces.
But notice how many colleges are assigning students two-to-a-room in campus dormitories, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic. All across the nation, thousands of young people--not known for social distancing or wearing masks--are going to live together in close quarters for three or four months. A good many will experiment with weekend binge drinking at the local bars where they stand an excellent chance of contracting COVID-19.
How safe will that environment be? The colleges say they are concerned about your safety, but they desperately need the revenue from dorm rentals because many of the dorms were built with borrowed money. The universities have got to have students' cash to service that debt.
Before moving into a dormitory, ask yourself these questions:
1) Will you feel safe sharing a dorm room with another student and sharing restrooms and showers with people you don't know?
2) Will you feel safe eating your meals in a communal dining hall?
2) Does it make sense to live on campus when most of your classes will be delivered online or by Zoom, and there will be few if any opportunities to socialize with your peers?
The colleges want students to live on campus because they want your money. But make your own decision about whether it is safe to live in a dorm this fall. You may conclude it is better to find your own housing arrangements or live at home with your parents. Remember, the coronavirus doesn't care who you are or where you live.
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