To America’s College Students

I assume you are aware that a lot of colleges and universities have already attempted to open to student attendance on campus but have sent most of their students home due to the development of COVID-19 clusters. If you are going to your campus this Fall or have already arrived, this message is primarily for you.

You may not be aware of this, but an awful lot of colleges and universities are having major financial problems. COVID-19 has contributed heavily to this problem. Very heavily.

You might wonder why most schools don’t just bite the bullet and operate almost entirely on line. The reason is that a tremendous amount of their revenue comes from housing. They need this revenue to operate. It takes a tremendous number of people to run a university.  Counseling. Admissions. Orientation. Athletics. Judicial affairs. Advising. RA’s and other residence hall personnel. Buildings and grounds. Dining. Campus transportation. Minority affairs. Special needs affairs. Commuter student affairs. Human subjects (for research). Entertainment/concerts. Human Resources. Alumni affairs. Hell, my daughter had a job for a while caring for lab animals. The list is endless.

State funding for state colleges and universities is down because state governments aren’t doing well financially either. Schools have spent millions and millions getting ready for operating with COVID to preserve their ability to host students physically, which is not only critical for housing revenue but it’s what students and their parents want. Classrooms all being fitted with technology so that professors can teach remotely while they teach physically attending students. Housing set aside for students who catch COVID-19. Making sure every seat in every classroom is six feet from every other seat, which means the capacity of every classroom is slashed, leading to shortages of usable classrooms. You have no idea just how much schools have to do to prepare for this.

What happens if schools open, which many have, and students get careless enough for multiple COVID clusters to develop, leading schools to send almost all their students home, as has also already happened? Massive refunds for housing.

What happens to schools whose revenues have been slashed while their expenses have climbed through the roof?

They shrink or they close.

Departments are closed down. Staff are fired. Faculty are fired and, if their departments are axed, that includes tenured faculty. Majors that were available to you and your peers no longer are. Electives that were available to you and your peers no longer are. The quality of your institution is reduced substantially if it survives at all.

So, the next time you get into a long line for a bar with no distancing and no masks, remember that in addition to risking contracting a highly contagious disease that could disable or kill a family member when they contract it from you, remember that you’re also risking the health and possibly existence of the college or university you came into town to attend.

If you find a beer worth that, please let me know.

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