Orji: CSU’s reaction to the coronavirus is irrational

Joslyn Orji

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

University President Joyce McConnell sent an email last night stating that Colorado State University will extend spring break until March 24 and move classes online until April 10. Despite the severity of COVID-19, CSU’s response to transfer courses online is irrational.

Ad

Students are also worried about classes being canceled altogether, which is a possibility since other universities started closing down campus classrooms. We applaud the caring nature of our University’s dedication to student and staff health and well-being, but mirroring the actions of other institutions is not necessarily in the community’s best interest.

This action isn’t meant to invalidate individual experiences but to provide a sense of reality to calm the community. It’s notable that the University is considering preventive measures, but switching to online classes will only contribute to the further dramatization of the disease.

Switching to online as a preemptive measure will likely result in growing apathy among students toward their education. As a result of the lack of accountability, students may begin to neglect their coursework.

According to The Washington Post, unless a student, faculty member or someone closely associated with a person has been diagnosed, then there’s no need for preemptive action that could bring negative consequences by closing the schools. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most at-risk for the disease are older people and people with underlying health conditions, yet it could affect everyone differently.

The media has prompted a sense of mass hysteria and paranoia among United States residents regarding the disease, especially those who reside in states that have reported at least two cases. Additionally, online classes and self-quarantine aren’t going to stop students from congregating and socializing. When better to go out than a Friday night after a 12-hour “The Office” binge and no classes? 

However, the spread of COVID-19 wouldn’t be solely hastened by students rushing across The Plaza during passing period. There are other factors at play here. 

Residence halls are packed with students constantly mingling and mixing within one another’s personal spaces. These are the hubs of most student activities. Socializing, food preparation and everyday hygiene practices are conducted within buildings teeming with students.

The risk posed by such close contact is more likely to result in the rampant spread of the illness among students. With spring right around the corner, flu symptoms are more present than ever, but they could be confused with COVID-19 symptoms. 

Students and faculty are probably rushing to the CSU Health and Medical Center to be tested for the disease while using what seems like gallons of hand sanitizer in the off chance that 100% of all germs will actually be killed. Hand sanitizers must have at least a 60% alcohol content to meet CDC recommendations for being as effective at combating the disease as washing your hands with soap and water.

My colleague Madison Thompson mentions the possibility of potentially overwhelming the health care system. I disagree because of how advanced the system is. There are already adequate facilities in place that have been able to obtain accurate test results in suspected patients.

Ad

CSU is at a significant advantage. People are able to get tested as soon as they feel possible symptoms coming on. The virus spread is also a result of overwhelmed health care facilities within cities such as Wuhan, China. The U.S. is among one of the best prepared countries to manage an epidemic

And on top of everything else, what in the world is going to happen to courses that require lab work and hands-on work? What about the courses that use heavy machinery and large spaces for works of art?

CSU’s reaction to COVID-19 by moving classes online is not only contributing to the panic, but also putting a hold on everyday routines based on unfounded fears.

Joslyn Orji can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @lazy_svndae_.