In a letter to the editor published in the University of Notre Dame student newspaper on Tuesday, several professors defended the value of the campus experience. The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes last week after a spike in positive coronavirus cases.
In a letter to the editor published on Tuesday, five professors at the University of Notre Dame urged administrators to keep the campus open for the remainder of the academic year. The professors argue that students experience significant benefits from the on-campus learning experience.
A new danger stalks the world, and it is not clear when we will have it under control. Nevertheless, we think the right decision is to have students learn and live together in person. We recognize there are some risks, especially to faculty and staff, but we do not think they are high enough to deprive students of the opportunities we were fortunate enough to enjoy at their age. Our society has already made young people sacrifice so much during the pandemic. Based on our understanding of the risks and present situation, we think shuttering the campus indefinitely and banishing students to isolated online learning would be unjust.
The letter highlights statistics that suggest that young people are not likely to face serious health ramifications when they contract the virus. They referenced a study that concluded that students may be safest on campus, in part, due to the psychological distress that is associated with quarantining in one’s home.
The professors argue that closing campus until a vaccine is available would jeopardize the economic well-being of campus staff. Moreover, students will be forced to endure a lower-quality learning experience.
The economic consequences of closing campus until we have a vaccine could jeopardize the job security and financial stability of many of our staff. And by sending students back home, we risk that they will have an atomized, isolated educational experience that it is a poor substitute for in-person learning, discussion and personal formation. One cannot experience a dorm mass, ramble the quad in deep discussion, develop new friendships or march for a cause while on Zoom.
Breitbart News reported last week that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame both suspended in-person classes due to a spike in positive coronavirus cases. Although 146 students at Notre Dame tested positive for the virus, none have required hospitalization.
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