Miami University President Greg Crawford’s announcement that all undergraduate classes will be held online for the first five weeks of the fall semester was met with mixed reactions from students, parents and faculty.
When rising sophomore Josh Hubbard read Crawford’s email, he decided he’d stay home for the semester and take all his classes online because he felt the situation would not improve enough to allow for students to return to campus in mid-September.
“If [administration] seemed so certain that we’d be back on campus in August but now they’re saying that’s not possible, what’s stopping them saying, ‘Oh wait, we have to push it back to October now,’” Hubbard said. “We gotta be honest with ourselves — this isn’t going to be better in a month’s time.”
Hubbard also expressed frustration at the lack of notice provided to students by the university issuing the announcement less than three weeks before the original move-in date.
“From Crawford’s email and how much they prepared everything, they must’ve known this [decision would be made] for at least two weeks, but they waited until now to tell us,” Hubbard said. “I just think it shows how incompetent the administration is, honestly.”
Rising sophomore Ryan Barr shared Hubbard’s sentiments about the announcement being released too late, as he was planning on moving back to Oxford next week because of his job at the Armstrong Student Center.
“From what I’ve heard, this was the plan since at least a week and a half ago,” Barr said. “We’re making all these preparations [to move back to campus] that are going to be in vain because it’s a foregone decision that they’re postponing it. It’s very frustrating.”
Barr said he understands the university is in a difficult situation but that the administration needs to improve its communication with students.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but [the lack of communication] is insulting because we have so much resting on this,” Barr said. “We are equal stakeholders, and I think they forget that.”
Unlike most students, incoming first-year Kaley Murphy understands the pandemic on an intimate level, as she’s currently recovering from the coronavirus after contracting it at her high school’s prom.
Murphy said she understands Miami’s cautious approach to the fall semester since she’s actually experienced the virus and its contagious nature.
“It’s honestly for the best,” Murphy said. “A decent amount of people from my school got it just from that one night, so I know firsthand that it spreads pretty fast.”
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Though she feels Miami made the right decision, Murphy said she was thrown off by how rapidly the administration changed its plans for the fall.
“I’m glad they gave us some options [for the fall semester], but I wish they would’ve given them to us a bit sooner,” Murphy said. “All of the emails before said ‘we’re expecting to see you this fall, and we’re looking forward to it,’ and then all of a sudden, we got the email saying we’re not going back.”
Cathy Wagner, professor of English and president of Miami’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), said AAUP is pleased with the decision to go remote for the first month, as it has simplified the planning process for faculty.
“What we really want to do is make a good learning experience for the students, and not having to think about potentially providing two or three different versions of a class is really helpful,” Wagner said. “Online teaching is a challenge for many of us, but we really want to do a good job and are working really hard.”
Wagner said AAUP is also working to guarantee certain faculty members the right to work online for the entire semester, such as those living with higher-risk individuals or young children who are participating in remote learning.
Allison Hudak, the mother of a Miami senior, said she disagrees with the decision to go remote because the university had plenty of time to make the necessary changes to ensure the safety of the approximately 17,000 Oxford campus students.
“I think they could’ve opened up,” Hudak said. “They had months to figure out how to do it, and it’s not a gigantic school.”
Despite this, Hudak said she feels Miami is justified in its decision to charge students full tuition for online classes.
“Even if you’re not getting the same education, you’re still getting a Miami education,” Hudak said. “Miami has to charge what they’re charging because they still have to pay the teachers and things like that.”
Rising sophomore Jake Kravitz, on the other hand, said he thinks Miami should charge students less for classes that are moved online.
“Online classes are a lot cheaper for the university because they don’t require any facilities,” Kravitz said. “It’s really frustrating to have to figure money and billing out during all this uncertainty.”
Kravitz said he’s still undecided on whether he’ll return to campus in September and that several factors, including whether his friends are going back and how many of his classes are in-person, will influence his decision.
“It depends on whether I feel like it’ll be a good time on campus,” Kravitz said. “If they’re super strict and only one or two classes are in-person, is it even worth going back?”