Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Editorial: MSU goes remote: Right decision, wrong timing

A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019.
A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

When we’ve been surrounded by constant unknowns, MSU kept from us the one answer they always had. 

Since the announcement that MSU was making the transition to online schooling in March, students had their lives irreparably changed. 

They had to pack up dorms and head to their hometowns. They watched as the number of  COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the state. They watched as the number of confirmed cases connected to Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub began at 14 and then rose to over 180

Students knew this year wouldn’t be the same. They knew when most classes transitioned to an at least partially online format. They knew when football was canceled

One thing would remain, however: College students would be college students. 

Instead of packing onto lawns for tailgates, they’d crowd living rooms. Instead of a midafternoon darty, they’d work their way into a fraternity basement. This was confirmed when there were eight violations regarding gathering limits a week before classes were set to start.

Everyone knew what the solution should’ve been. And we know MSU made the right decision, but it was made at the wrong time. 

Things have not gotten significantly better since March. If we had to shut down then, what made now any different?

The university did not need to see other schools open, only to have clusters of confirmed cases grow and then frantically send people home. We shouldn’t have needed to see an editorial from The Daily Tar Heel describe the reopening of the University of North Carolina as a “clusterfuck.” 

Students have lost normalcy completely during key years that set up the rest of their lives. These are the years where they form some final friendships, take every last networking opportunity before graduating. Now, students are forced to watch the job market shrink just months before they’re set to be entering it. 

We’re still surrounded by constant unknowns, so why wait so long to make the decision we anticipated anyways? 

The decision came just days after the first tuition payment was due, just days after students have confirmed their attendance, declaring that for the semester they would be Spartans. 

International students and out-of-state students alike would have to deal with time-zone differences if asynchronous classes are not offered. First-year students were excited to start their experience as Spartans on campus, only to find out they’ve thrown thousands of dollars at an online education.

Once again, we’re left asking for transparency. There’s even a lawsuit about this. MSU announced that it intended to bring students back to campus in May, just two months after COVID-19 reached Michigan.

It was irresponsible to create false hopes when there were so many unknowns.

So what’s next? How will MSU support their students during these unprecedented times? You protected our health and safety, now protect our education. Make it worth those thousands of dollars, even remotely.

So here we are, writing to you, MSU, for what feels like the thousandth time. We are asking you to do better. 

We don’t want written statements and apologies. We want open communication. Honesty. You always alluded to “pulling the plug,” but you waited too long when you knew what the answer would be the whole time. 

College students were going to be college students. You should’ve known better. 

Do better.

The summer State News Editorial Board was composed of Editor-in-Chief Evan Jones, Managing Editor SaMya Overall, Audience Engagement Editor Karly Graham, Copy Chief Mark Ostermeyer, Photo Editor Annie Barker, Staff Rep. Wendy Guzman, and Diversity and Inclusion Rep. Devin Anderson-Torrez.

This editotrial is part of our Welcome Week print edition. Read the full issue here.

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