The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
It’s been a long, devastating week.
Seven days ago, Miami University President Gregory Crawford announced Miami University would be holding all classes online to try and reduce the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Three days later, Miami announced classes would remain online for the rest of the semester, and informed students that they should leave their dorms by March 27. Yesterday, the university told students they had until March 21 to move out of their dorms.
The last eight weeks of our semester were taken with hardly any warning and, with how quickly the situation has escalated, it’s difficult to imagine what is to come.
We at The Miami Student are heartbroken over how everything has developed in the last week, but — as our staff prepares to transition leadership to a new editorial board and reflects on the last year at Miami — we have hope that good will come in the uncertain future.
Throughout the last year, our staff editorials have focused on similar themes. Transparency in university communications, a prioritization of student interests over PR fluff and personal accountability from Miami students, just to name a few.
While our editorials in the last year have been critical, it was not without a purpose. We see the good that people are doing, but we never want to lose sight of how we can be better as a community.
Miami’s administration has done an excellent job at mirroring the Ohio government’s response to coronavirus. They’ve been proactive and transparent in their decision making, ensuring students and their families are well informed despite not having a permanent director of university communications or vice president of marketing and communications.
Miami offered students an opportunity to refund a portion of their room and board, if they leave their dorms, and students who were abroad will receive $1,000 to help cover the cost of travel back to the U.S.
We’re pleasantly surprised that, during a time when the university is not doing well financially, the administration is attempting to prioritize students. More can certainly be done, especially for students who rely on campus jobs for income, students with work-study programs and everyone who pays thousands of dollars each semester for in-class learning. We hope to see the administration make continued strides to help all of them and university workers in the coming days.
We also hope that students remember to look out for others in the same manner. Remember that you are not only responsible for yourself, but for your community. Look out for neighbors, peers and friends who are at high risk for this virus.
We’ve all crammed the last two months of the semester into a 48-hour period. There’s been a sense of camaraderie in adapting to the worst of circumstances as best we can, and hopefully we will continue to do so moving forward. There is peace in knowing that we’re in this together.
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The world feels like it has come to a halt, but that pause may not be a terrible thing. It allows us to take stock of what is really important and reveals, in graphic detail, the larger systems at play in both our community and our country.
Obviously, the economic systems in our country are breaking down. Our nation’s healthcare system is not equipped to handle this outbreak, individuals are struggling financially and our federal government is scrambling to compensate for its lack of preparation.
While the Ohio government has done a better job than most in responding to this crisis thanks to Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Health for the Ohio Department of Health, the bar is exceptionally low, and Gov. Mike DeWine is guilty of gutting the social safety nets that could have protected people and workers in this crisis. Instead, he vaguely promised to “work to mitigate the suffering,” as if his word is going to be enough to save low-income families from destitution, rather than actually funding unemployment services.
There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to force things into perspective.
Miami, and the rest of the country, have an opportunity to come back from this better than before. We can better identify the cracks in our system and outline ways to improve them in the future, whether that be through administrative planning or voting for community-minded elected officials.
In some ways, this has served as a reality check for many people to realize what is possible.
Don’t forget that once things get better, and don’t forget how far we’ve come.
Our editorial board’s first issue ran a front page story about the Delta Tau Delta (Delts) hazing case, where a new member was brutally assaulted during a big/little reveal and hospitalized. Our final issue features a profile on Tyler Perino, the former Miami student who reported his assault, which shares his experience and his hope that Miami’s culture will change, just a year after he was hazed.
For us, it feels symbolic. It’s a way to measure how much can change in a year. It hasn’t been an easy year, nor has it been a comfortable one. But the challenges our community has faced has inspired growth, and paved the way for community improvement.
The seniors on our staff agree that there is more of a Miami community now than when they first came to this campus.
There have been sparks of inspiration from students on-campus over the three and half years, from groups like the Black Action Movement 2.0 and the Student Sustainability Council to individuals like Tyler Perino, who have immeasurably shifted campus culture. There is more social, racial and economic diversity within the student body, broadening the perspective and values we hold as a community.
It’s bittersweet that seniors won’t get to come back to that campus, but it’s important to always leave a place better than you found it.
To those who are coming back to campus in the fall, keep taking those steps toward a better community. Look for ways to raise the voices of your friends and peers. Continually seek to improve yourself and your surroundings.
And take a deep breath.
Don’t obsess. Don’t let fear envelop you. Don’t lose sight of the possibility for improvement.
Humanity has faced worse. Not knowing what’s going to happen next is not unique. We’ve done it before, and we’ll certainly have to do it again.
Goodbye for now, Miami. And good luck.