In June, Ohio State decided that there would be in-person classes for the fall semester, with little to no details about what it would actually look like. Then, a few weeks later, many students woke up to classes being silently transferred to online or hybrid classes, as the professors were allowed to decide whether their classes would be in person, hybrid, or entirely online.
"Reopening" is a strong word for what Ohio State is doing.
Students will be on campus, and they are moving in over two weeks, but very little other than the dining halls have reopened yet.
Ohio State is only reopening for the money, not so students can have a sense of normality in their fall semester.
For the fall, if students have one in person, hybrid, or distance enhanced class, they have to pay all the fees that are associated with a normal semester, including a gym fee (that hasn't been open since March) and a bus fee (that has been free since March). Additionally, going online is only cheaper for out of state students when they opt to take classes fully online. When tuition was posted, students received an email that said if the university goes online, students won't be given a refund, like they were in the spring. There are no guarantees that the semester won't end online, and paying for amenities that won't be available isn't fair to college students who are trying to save every penny they can.
This summer, I took classes entirely online and the cost of tuition was the same for a normal semester. The executive vice president said that tuition isn't built on the campus experience, but the courses themselves. As someone who took all online classes over the summer, it's a completely different experience to take classes in person. Two of my classes this summer only met on zoom once a week, even though they were three credit hours each. There's a clear difference between a class that is required to be online and a class that has been set up to be online.
If Ohio State really wanted to support its students, then tuition for this semester would be much less than normal, but they're just in it for a financial gain.
When you think about the "college experience" the first two things that come to mind are dorms and joining student organizations. One thing the university has barely touched on at all is what all organizations will look like. Up until an announcement by Ohio State's president-elect was made last week, there was no real update as to what students would be allowed to do within clubs. Now, events in person are limited to 10 people. What's the point of reopening the campus if students aren't allowed to be involved in any organization in person?
Ohio State has almost any club imaginable, yet they aren't communicating with student leaders about what this year will look like. Even if the university doesn't want students to be meeting in person, you have to tell people that in order to make sure that it happens. Everyone needs to plan for what the fall looks like, and even if there is little new information, being told small updates helps everyone feel more prepared for the upcoming year.
The most confusion this year has been with residence halls. It was confusing when they closed in March, because the first announcement was that everyone could come back, and then that quickly shifted to no one could come back. For the fall, residence halls are open, but students were moved around, seemingly at random. First, all quads were broken up into doubles, and students were moved out of dorms that were deemed quarantine dorms.
Sophomores who were planning on living on campus have had an even more confusing ride. In June, they were told that they could move off campus, but if they decided to live on campus, the university would tell them at a later date where they would be living. Normally, your sophomore year housing placement is set in stone during the spring semester, and you've picked out people you want to live with. The university didn't share a lot of information upfront about whether sophomores would have on-campus housing this year and told students to make their decision and the university would give more information at a later date.
As students were starting to move in, the university decided that every student living on campus would be required to be COVID-tested weekly. While that's not a bad idea, there has been very little information about the logistics of how this would work for the thousands of students moving in over two weeks. Students who are already trying to figure out what college will look like while almost all classes are online and the dorms are requiring face masks and limiting visitors shouldn't also have to plan for a test that they're required to take.
Overall, there has been very little communication with the students from the university. There have been weekly emails from the President, but all of them have the same subject line, and the first two paragraphs were exactly the same for months. There was no easy way for students to know what the new information was, or when to expect changes to come. Updates came haphazardly, and conflicting information was given out, sometimes in the same day.
Ohio State is reopening for the money they can get out of it — plain and simple.
The students have been put last in almost every single situation, and college this fall is barely going to look like college at all. If Ohio State truly cared about their students, the university wouldn't be reopening the way it is, if at all. Everything this year has been poorly planned out and confusing for all students. School won't look the same for anyone this year, but Ohio State isn't doing students any favors with the way they're reopening.