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EDITORIAL: Rutgers' coronavirus disease response comes up short


Fiscal, educational tenants of University have fallen short


Rutgers, much like the federal government of the United States, has found itself completely and utterly unprepared to handle the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and just like the constituents of the U.S. government are going to pay for their leaders’ ineptitude, Rutgers students find themselves as victims of their administration’s general incompetence.

Rutgers, as well as the government and other universities around the nation, had an opportunity to make extensive preparations to curtail the negative impacts of this pandemic. We all knew of the virus back in January, yet preparations made were far too little, far too late. 

Now, professors are forced to scramble to create online course content which overwhelms them, and thus, makes students the victims of sub-par content.

Which is unequivocally not what students are paying — and oftentimes, going into debt — for. 

Students are paying for quality education, which is what we, as well as administrators, expect from Rutgers. We enrolled in the University with the hope that we would leave it with newfound knowledge and an in-depth educational experience, both that have been effectively stripped from us through these lackadaisical provisions enacted by the University.

Of course, nobody is arguing that we should be on campus at this moment. The danger that COVID-19 poses is far too grave to have us on a campus of thousands of students day in and day out. We can be angry, we can be upset, but in no way should we question the decision to take us off campus. What we should be questioning, and what we are questioning, is the way the University has thus far attempted to smooth this transition.

It is a simple tenant of market economics: You pay for the services you get. University President Robert L. Barchi seems to understand this to some extent, as partial refunds for housing and dining are going to be provided.

“Students living in residence halls will receive information in the coming days on when they will be able to move out as well as prorated refunds for housing and dining expenses,” The Daily Targum reported.

This does not change the fact that our education is going to be severely limited for the remaining month of this semester, and that we will all likely come out of the Spring 2020 semester with less acquired knowledge than we expected and paid for.

Additionally, the University is actually incurring more costs on many students. Its inability to make up its mind on the semester’s cancellation has forced many students to spend additional money on retrieving their items from their dorms.

What Rutgers seems to think is that the fact that we are getting our courses graded — albeit, in a flexible Pass/No Credit manner, if one so chooses — is enough to warrant our paying full price. 

This all comes at a time where a severe economic downturn is widely expected. Students have parents who are losing hours, getting terminated and watching the value of their retirement funds vanish into thin air, and Rutgers is sitting idly by, forcing its students to pay tuition for what will be a makeshift educational experience. The administrators do not seem to care about students nor their families, something they have made amply clear time and time again.

Rather than taking the burden that many businesses are enduring throughout this unfortunate crisis, Rutgers has redirected the fiscal harm of this pandemic onto its students. That is not an act of a prestigious University and Rutgers must do better by its students to maintain its status.

We did not come to college solely to get a transcript and diploma, but to actually learn more about the world around us.

For instance, how are art classes supposed to operate at their full capacity online? How can one adequately learn chemistry or biology without a lab to work in? We are not paying for grades — we are paying for knowledge and experience, and with these having been severely diluted by the University’s failure to adequately adapt to this crisis, we have every right in the world to demand our money back.

In fact, we have an obligation to do so. If we fail to take action and demand our rightful, hard-earned money back, the University will continue to take advantage of us, knowing that we are too sheepish to fight back against the inequities it imposes on us.

Students and families must put pressure on the University to do the right thing, and that pressure must be harsh.

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The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.


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