Reyna: CWRU is playing all the wrong cards

Christian Reyna, Staff Columnist

No one thought we would be in the situation we are currently in. Months have passed since Case Western Reserve University implemented their decision to have the second half of the spring 2020 semester delivered remotely. Throughout the entire summer, students have been waiting for updates from our institution on whether or not we would be able to return back to campus or how the fall 2020 semester would look like. 

When those updates came, they were disappointing.

Why were these updates disappointing? For one, there is clear miscommunication and lack of understanding between administrators and students.

Throughout the entire summer, there were times when students had to go onto the University Health and Counseling Services’ website to read emails sent only to faculty in order to be aware of changing circumstances. This is how I found out what CWRU was doing in terms of accommodating social distancing and personal hygiene before other students were notified. These faculty emails should have been sent to students as well to better communicate what was happening. This could have alleviated some of the stress of not knowing what was going on.

When we finally got emails, we were told that we would be able to come back to campus with strict rules to lower the risk of being infected. Most of our concerns were answered. I was fine with all of this and was ready to follow these new procedures. 

However, I was not fine being notified a few days prior to my flight that I was not able to return to my university housing. This decision, which was announced only a few days before returning students had planned to move in, should have been made much earlier. This added unnecessary stress to students who then scrambled to find last-minute off-campus housing to attend in-person classes that cannot be done remotely.

Students who were then forced to stay home had to also figure out how to conduct their at-home semester with such short timing. Personally, I had to share this unexpected decision with my family in order to plan how they could accommodate having me home for much longer than anticipated. A desk and a chair were bought alongside other office supplies. A webcam was bought to replace my laptop’s blurry one for better video conferencing, and furniture was rearranged.

All of this was done in an effort to make my learning experience as comfortable as possible in order to further my education without any setbacks. My family was able to accommodate me in these troubling times, and I thank them for that.

However, not everyone has these resources or is able to have accommodations like these. Some students rely on CWRU’s housing and buildings for a quiet place to study away from home due to numerous circumstances that could affect their education. Not everyone has the freedom to buy and rearrange things to have a better virtual education. The sudden housing change was not helpful, as we had such little time to plan for all of this. 

Yes, I acknowledge that CWRU is trying its best to keep students healthy by limiting who can come back, but this could’ve been planned better and earlier.

CWRU’s ever-changing decisions also hurt students choosing classes. There are a number of us who have to take a certain class at a certain time in order to graduate. CWRU’s inability to assure students that the classes they need for their major will have the option to be remote is infuriating.

Instead of accommodating students during troubling times, they send us out into the wild, scrambling to figure out what to do only a few weeks before classes begin. Emails had to be sent from students to professors in hopes that they’ll be able to take their class remotely. As they waited for a response, time was lost in searching for alternatives. This could’ve been prevented if CWRU had only taken the initiative to automatically make classes remote for those who need them to be.

CWRU has made it their mission to help students residing on campus—in an effort to make sure the number of cases stay low and keep students healthy—with their new guidelines. Our university should also help those who aren’t able to come back.

CWRU should directly reach out to students who were removed from their housing and ask if they need any academic, mental or financial help. If CWRU truly cares about their students, then they mustn’t forget about us. They must make sure that we have everything we need to have a better semester. I understand that this may take a toll on university resources, but it must be done for the betterment of the students.

We are living in troubling times. Having to continue our education through a pandemic is challenging. It was not easy for CWRU to make all of their decisions for something that no one could predict, but they should help every student possible—especially those affected by the university’s last-minute decisions.

Christian Reyna is a third-year biomedical engineering major who plans to obtain a Spanish minor. Since he is stuck at home in Texas for the semester, he is usually playing with his dogs or trying to figure out how long he could go without overpaying for a cup of coffee.