As we enter the third year of the pandemic, university administrators everywhere seem to be in a competition for the most outlandishly restrictive, un-scientific, and often downright cruel coronavirus policies. Most were already requiring masks, vaccines, and boosters, of course. But in the midst of the (remarkably non-deadly) Omicron surge, recent weeks have seen a slate of the nation’s top schools instituting draconian restrictions and moving classes back online. Yesterday, for example, Yale announced a month-long campus-wide quarantine for returning students, barring them from frequenting businesses or restaurants in town — even to eat outdoors.
It is beginning to feel as if these schools are returning to May 2020. Indeed, after yesterday’s announcement that the Chicago Teachers’ Union is going on strike to pressure Mayor Lori Lightfoot to revert to remote instruction, one could be forgiven for thinking that some factions of the education workforce would like to remain online indefinitely.
Just take today’s near-unbelievable news that the University of Las Vegas Law School is moving a number of its important classes — including all of its required constitutional-law and lawyering classes for 1L students — online for the entire spring semester. In an email to students, the UNLV dean wrote that the “adjustments to the spring schedule” were “based on individual professor preferences and pedagogical concerns.” In practice, that meant moving some upper-level courses and large swathes of 1L and 2L courses online for the rest of the semester. All that is on top of UNLV’s moving all of its classes online for the next two weeks. At least.
I chatted via text with one UNLV student who wished to remain anonymous. “Two of my classes, Lawyering Process and ConLaw, have been moved online for the entire year, regardless of the status of cases in the county,” he told me. “There is, of course, no discount for what will obviously be sub-par legal education, and it isn’t even clear if there will be in-person classes in 2 weeks! There’s no metric, no number of cases, that they’ve presented to us as guiding their decision-making process.” On top of that:
I chose my apartment specifically for its proximity to campus so I could walk to class rather than have a lengthy commute and be more of a part of the [William S.] Boyd [Law School] community, now I’ve already had to pay my January rent and can look forward to conducting 60 percent of my classes from my apartment.
All of this is on top of requiring masks, vaccines, and the booster.
Universities have every right to self-immolate if they so choose. But they shouldn’t get to take tuition-paying students with them. At what point do kids get to ask for their money back?