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Students weigh pros and cons of returning to campus

<p>The deadline for students to decide whether or not they will return to campus this semester is quickly approaching, and the decision is not an easy one to make.</p>

The deadline for students to decide whether or not they will return to campus this semester is quickly approaching, and the decision is not an easy one to make.

Students have until this Friday, Aug. 21, to decide whether or not they will participate in Miami University’s phased reopening. But for some, the decision isn’t as easy as checking a box on an online form.

Following President Greg Crawford’s email announcing the online first month, students were given the option to return to campus in mid-September, go fully online or take a gap semester. The decision is non-revocable. 

On-campus students who choose to participate in the phased reopening will begin moving back to campus during the week of Sept. 14. They will receive a $750 credit off their bill. Those who choose to remain fully online for the semester will receive a $1,000 credit if they’re Ohio residents or a $2,000 credit if they live out of state.

One potential drawback for students choosing the online semester option is that they cannot hold on-campus employment or use any on-campus resources, even if they’re living in Oxford.

This employment restriction was a major factor in junior Meghan Holland’s decision to return to campus. Holland works at the Shriver Center Starbucks and will be living in an apartment in Oxford this semester.

“It was either, ‘You’re gonna go to [in-person] classes, or you’re gonna have to find a new job,’” Holland said. “I can’t pay rent if I don’t have a job.”

Many students, including Holland, have signed leases and will be required to pay rent for their off-campus homes regardless of whether or not they’re living there.

Junior Savanna Fee decided to return to campus primarily for that reason, though she said she does have some concerns about the safety of returning to in-person class.

“If we do end up going back [to in-person classes], I am a little bit concerned because one of my housemates is high-risk, so if she did get [COVID-19], it would be really hard on her,” Fee said. “I just really hope that Miami is able to bring us back safely.”

Another potential setback of choosing to remain online for the whole semester is that students must modify their schedules so they are taking only classes that are either fully online or hybrid classes that are “noted as suitable for fully remote participation,” according to the Healthy Together frequently asked questions.

This means professors will not be required to offer an online option for students if their class is designated to return to an in-person mode of delivery in September. Students who choose to go fully online will be responsible for designing an updated schedule that will accomodate distance learning.

Junior Romie Crist, a studio art major, said she’s decided to return to campus because the nature of many of her classes make them very difficult to complete remotely.

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“Considering the fact that I’m a printmaking concentration, it’s either doing very basic printwork that almost feels like arts and crafts in my room, or getting to work with chemicals, printing presses and much higher quality materials in an open studio,” Crist said.

Despite these factors, some students aren’t convinced Miami is capable of safely bringing students back to campus.

Ellie Yruegas, a junior psychology major, said she and her family decided she wouldn’t return to campus when Miami started sending out emails describing its plans to bring students back.

“They were kind of being vague as to how exactly they were going to keep us all safe,” Yruegas said. “They were saying, ‘We’re going to socially distance people,’ and stuff like that, but people are saying, ‘OK, but what specific things are gonna happen?’ It took a long time for that to be communicated in the emails.”

Yruegas also said she and her mom have asthma and her dad has diabetes, so this added to her concerns about potentially exposing herself to the coronavirus on campus.

“My family is basically all high-risk, so in our opinion, there’s just no possible way for it to be safe [for me to return to campus],” Yruegas said. “I’d like to have faith in the students at Miami to wear masks and practice good hygiene, but I just don’t.”