By Nicholas Enoch ’23
With less than four weeks left in the semester, speculations on what the Spring 2021 semester will look like and whether we will be coming back to campus is still up in the air, which is leaving students confused and in the dark about what to expect. During the current Fall 2020 semester, only students who fit certain criteria could come onto campus and as a result less than 10 percent of the undergraduate population is currently living on-campus. Due to the ongoing success preventing an outbreak of Covid-19 cases on campus, Goucher has decided to allow at least 700 students to come onto campus in the spring and is promoting the rollout of hy-flex [hybrid online and in-person] courses. However the response to the news has been mixed at best.
Sophomore Anna Williams ‘23, who currently lives on campus, expressed concern that allowing a large amount of students back can create more problems:
“I am concerned that if we do come back, then we will get shut down again and will hurt the students who need campus housing like myself.”
In a recent email by Student Success, students who apply for on-campus housing are subject to a system of prioritization which is ordered as follows: first-year students, student-athletes, sophomore students, non-athlete seniors, non-athlete juniors, and then students currently residing less than 25 miles from campus placed last. This priority list has garnered frustration to juniors and seniors who are in need of campus housing, as they are the least priority and may not receiving housing, even if they apply for it. Following the email, students took to the Gopher app to express outrage and vent over the prioritization of on-campus housing, especially the perception of leaving juniors and seniors out in the cold.
Sophomore Tara Abdullah Nri ’23 said, “I do find it weird that sophomores are being prioritized over seniors as a sophomore myself.”
Junior Sarah Ohana ‘22, a biology major, also noted that some of her classes would require her to be on campus for some of her classes:
“My major and minor are very intense and they require many classes that I’ll need to take one after the other or else I will be behind in my graduating requirements, which is not my goal to be behind in at all. I was told that possibly one of my science classes will have a mandatory lab in person requirement and if that is the case, then I will have to live on campus or close to campus most likely.”
Not only has the priority list have received criticism, the level of safety and enforcement of CDC guidelines such as social distancing and staying 6 feet apart has received mixed reaction. In an email by the Spring Reopening Task Force, it is stated that each resident on campus will be living in single rooms.
First-year Autumn Custis ‘24, who currently resides on campus, believes that Goucher will be able to follow CDC guidelines: “I feel very comfortable with coming back to campus because of the frequent testing and mask regulations they put in place.”
However, students who are currently not on campus, like junior Quinn Tran ‘22, feel otherwise about returning to campus: “I don’t want something like Fall happened when they said to reopen, [sic] yet they moved online. Will they assure us that this won’t happen again?”
Abdullah Nri also spoke about returning to campus:
“I feel like there’s a good chance that there will be a breakout on campus which would be risky for the whole population and in that case I wouldn’t be able to go home because my parents are both in the at-risk category in multiple ways and I wouldn’t want to risk it.
From reading the emails and speaking with students both on and off campus, my opinion on students coming back to campus is up in the air. I do feel that the priority list of students that should come back should be changed or revised to acknowledge students who need housing. Also, there is a reoccurring pattern that what happened last Spring and this Fall will happen again, and I myself fear that too, being a first-year who needs campus housing. My hope, like most if not all of the students, is that Goucher makes a decision and stands by their choice instead of committing and then backing off. With coronavirus cases rising all across the country, my biggest fear is coming on to campus and then in a matter of weeks having to leave. With the Spring 2021 semester still looking up in the air, who knows what kind of semester we will all be walking into when classes start in February.