It’s not your typical college experience. Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway says come next fall most classes will continue to be online with a few held in person.
“My concern is their health and their safety. If they do not feel safe coming to campus and they are able to teach remotely, then we respect that. It’s not for me to force somebody to teach in this environment. That’s an indecent thing to do,” Holloway said.
More than 70,000 students at Rutgers New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses were forced to evacuate four months ago due to COVID. The school’s president says the situation hasn’t improved enough to bring students back.
“I want people to be honest about their ability to come to work, their comfort level to come to work, etc. We have to trust one another, basically, in this regard,” he said.
The president of Rutgers faculty union and associate professor of journalism and media studies Todd Wolfson says he’s not alone in feeling hesitant about in-person teaching.
“My guess would be a guess that skews towards a higher amount of people who don’t want to go back, because those are the people who are speaking the most right now. I think that we can have a beautiful, important educated process in the fall, but I do understand the concerns and I think it’s crazy to not acknowledge the concerns that parents and students have,” Wolfson said.
Those concerns include tuition costs. Princeton joined Rutgers in its plan for mostly online courses. However, Princeton students who complete the year remotely will have tuition discounted by 10%. The same discount was not offered to students at Rutgers.
“Running a university is exquisitely expensive and tuition is a major role in allowing us to employ our faculty, for instance, and employ our researchers and employ our dining hall workers, etc. So in order to deliver the quality of education we want to deliver, expect to deliver, the tuition is built into that machine,” Holloway said.
Which is why a petition calling for a tuition cut was started. It’s already gained with more than 10,000 signatures.
“I think the feeling with the pandemic itself is just frustration. A lot of students have lost their jobs and are very unsure right now based on health concerns and financial concerns, as well. The mood is all over the place. And I also think in regards to the petition being put out that the school is working to hear those students,” said Rutgers Student Body Vice President Arielle Dublin.
As of now, both Rutgers on-campus housing will be extremely limited and reserved for students who are housing insecure or who live abroad.