CSU students and faculty react to a semester in-person as COVID continues

A sticky situation

This semester is all about change, as universities are returning to “normal” after two and a half semesters of COVID learning-. However, in order to bring the campus back, certain regulations were required and communication was key.

As students and faculty are getting used to being back on campus, everyone has been trying to stay up to date with the new regulations. Yet, many faculty members have complained about the lack of communication they have experienced.

Professors have just recently learned the correct course of action for the event of a student in their class testing positive. If professors just recently learned what to do if a student tests positive, what were they doing for the first two weeks of classes? If the administration intends to keep everyone safely on campus for the rest of the year, they must inform everyone of the safety precautions they intend to use right away, not a few weeks later.

Not only were professors unsure about the process once a student tests positive for COVID, but were advised to not grant “compassion exceptions.” Administration advised faculty members to inform the students that “we expect students to be vaccinated and we are providing the course face-to-face,” although they refuse to mandate vaccinations for students.

An email regarding COVID guidelines sent to professors. Screenshot by Dina Usanovic

The reasoning behind this suggestion is that “CSU has made a commitment to face-to-face instruction.” While CSU has made a commitment to on-campus learning, the university is vehemently against a required vaccine, which many other universities have already implemented.

A vaccine requirement is major. While many students and most faculty members would feel incredibly safer with a vaccine requirement, President Harlan Sands refuses to implement the requirement — even after he has tested positive for COVID this past week. According to an Instagram poll from the Student Government Association, 68% of students who answered were in favor of a vaccine mandate.

There are many immunocompromised members of the university community that simply are not comfortable being on campus, knowing many people are likely not vaccinated. If the university is not requiring a vaccine, why can’t they at least allow those students who feel uncomfortable going to class to take their classes remotely? Remote learning worked well for the past year, and this would not be any different. The only difference, in fact, is that President Sands has publicly announced a commitment to in-person learning.

Another important consideration regarding a vaccine mandate is the type of university Cleveland State is. While many students live on campus, a significant amount of them commute. The lack of a vaccine mandate means everyone is bringing the risks of their own communities to CSU, and then from CSU to their communities. This heightens the risk of contracting COVID for everyone in those communities and on campus. Many professors have expressed their disdain for the lack of a vaccine mandate.

Associate Professor Megan Hatch has been quoted in this Ideastream article, as saying that she isn’t “clear on the extent that staff and students were consulted.”

If the administration is so concerned with keeping members of the community safe, wouldn’t they consult those members of the community when creating the guidelines they’ve put into place?

Overall, the university needs to do better. Faculty and student opinions are the most important opinions to consider, as the university’s regulations directly affect them. If we have any hopes of returning to normal, we cannot rush into it. The university needs to shift back to fully on-campus learning the right way, otherwise we will backslide to where we were in the spring of 2020.

Author: Dina Usanovic

I am an English and Political Science major at CSU in my third year at the university. I love writing for the Cauldron and I'm so excited to bring student opinions to the forefront of university news!