It’s not difficult to notice the effects of COVID-19, no matter where you look. All non-essential businesses have shut down, professional sports have suspended their seasons and schools are transitioning their lessons to online platforms. I have to remind myself several times a day that this is, in fact, real life.
This is especially difficult for me as a graduating senior, as it’s quite likely that the memories I’ve made in Athens have become just that: memories. The status of graduation is up in the air, and adulthood has come a lot more quickly than I expected it to. I feel selfish for having this mindset — people are literally dying — but life as we know it is rapidly coming to an end.
Schools are making the right call to transition to online learning. We would all rather be back in Athens with our friends, but we all think that something like this isn’t possible until it happens to us, and schools are smart to do what’s possible to prevent the virus from spreading even further. My daily routine is of secondary importance to the safety and well-being of everyone else.
The problem is, however, that we’re still paying for benefits that we aren’t getting. When I reached out to the university to ask for any updates on tuition costs, the bursar’s office told me that tuition will not be adjusted because instruction is still taking place, and that “only the mode of delivery is changing.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but for a lot of people, it just doesn’t make sense. How do you explain that to nursing students and other majors who require personal instruction? How do you explain that to students who have to spend more money to have the right equipment to finish a semester online? More frankly, how do you explain that to anyone?
My professors have all been very transparent with me over the last week or so. They understand the difficulties that we’re all dealing with, and they’ve made themselves available any time I need their help. But not all professors are like that, and some just aren’t capable of teaching an entire course online. How can the university say that nothing is any different?
If I wanted to get an education online, I could have easily done it anywhere else for a fraction of the cost. And maybe I would have, but it’s easy for a high school student to feel pressured into attending a four-year university because of the common perception that an online degree “isn’t valuable.” How the tables have turned.
Beyond that, the university eliminated a week of classes from the semester to more smoothly transition into online courses, but we’re still paying for a standard 15-week course load. At the very least, we deserve a refund equal to the cost of the week of an education that we’re no longer getting. But that’s the bare minimum.
I kept pressing the bursar’s office further, and I was told that this is the cost that I agreed to originally. Neither one of us could have predicted that a global pandemic would essentially take over the world, but refusing to change a school policy in even the most unpredictable of circumstances makes it abundantly clear that the university sees students only as dollar signs. If you claim to care about us enough to send everyone home for the rest of the year, then act like it. It doesn’t help that the staffer replying to my email somehow managed to care so little that they spelled my name wrong.
It’s also worth mentioning that a portion of our tuition helps pay for resources across campus, all of which are now closed. If I’m not able to use the rec center or various counseling services across campus, why am I still being charged for them?
At this point, I just have so many unanswered questions, and I don’t know where to go from here. It’s perfectly clear that the university doesn’t really care about “us” at all; they care about our money, and that’s it. My only regret is that it took me so long to figure that out.
Michael Chaney is a senior studying sports management at Ohio University. Please note that the opinions expressed in letters do not reflect those of The Post.