Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Asst. Opinions Editor
On Sept. 21, 2020; 175 students at Providence College were confirmed to have contracted the Coronavirus. Following this, the school announced that they were implementing a stay in order for all students. This was to be enforced by Providence College campus and Providence police. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 250 people were exposed to the virus through the students who already had contracted it. Rhode Island College, however, implemented online courses for the majority of their students. The question is, is RIC doing this out of genuine concern for the students, or is there a financial reason for this decision?
With these figures in mind, it is easy to point to them and claim that RIC made the right decision in reverting to a mostly online form of classes, although there are a couple of freshman classes as well as labs still being hosted in-person. Not to mention, there are almost twice as many students enrolled at RIC compared to PC. However, there are several criticisms of the official policy RIC imposed on the students. Indeed, it can even be argued that RIC and larger universities evoke very different campus cultures. While schools such as PC are known for its hooliganism, like lighting a couch on fire when the hockey team won the national championship in 2015 and wild parties, RIC is practically a graveyard by the evening of a Friday night. A Friday night at PC, on the other hand, looks more like a grand bazaar than a Catholic college.
Personal experience colored me shocked when a couple of friends and I tried to use their soccer field for a kick around. After being kicked off, we were all shocked to discover groups upon groups of students crowded around each other throughout campus. It looked like a perfect breeding ground for the spread of a virus; hundreds of people packed together admittedly outside, apathetic authorities and careless students. The fact that most RIC students are gone when they end their classes makes me question the decision of the administration to hold online classes for the majority of students.
Most RIC students are commuters, students who rely on transportation whether it be their own cars or the public bus to get to their classes. As mentioned above, most students leave campus upon finishing their classes for the day. While the attitude of get in, get to class, get out is to the detriment of flourishing campus culture, it actually works to the advantage of the school during times such as these. The fact that RIC students leave campus for the day and don’t linger in large groups on campus leads to a safer environment overall. Compare this to schools such as PC or University of Rhode Island, where students tend to congregate in tight indoor dorms and cafeterias in large groups. This is yet another reason to question the decision RIC administration took in reverting to online classes for the majority of students.
Furthermore, there is the fact that there are still classes taking place on campus. The classes are for freshmen or courses that require a lab. There are also on-campus tours taking place, hosted by RIC students. Lastly, students are still living on campus. All these factors just lead to more questions. The more time passes, the more I start to wonder if cutting in-person classes was more of a financial decision, rather than a question of safety.