The YU Observer has verified that this article was written by a Yeshiva University undergraduate student (SCW ‘21).
After hearing the news of reopening, I, along with many other Stern students, faced apprehension at the prospect of returning to campus in this health crisis. I wondered why this school would make such a rash decision, a decision that would take effect three months from the announcement.
Stern doesn’t exactly deserve an A+ for putting the students above the institution. Just last year, it was announced that the cybersecurity program in the Katz School of Science and Health will soon occupy the eighth floor of the 215 building, which had been reserved in previous years for the art department. They did not seem to care that many students would be without the proper arrangements to satisfy their major. All they seemed to care about was their financial gain.
A little less than two years ago, Stern College senior Shifra Lindenberg, SSSB ‘21, free-fell in the Brookdale Residence Hall elevator. Despite this near-death experience, the school failed to replace the malfunctioning elevators, again placing the institution over the students. And recently, it took a break-in to the Schottenstein Residence Hall for there to be increased security measures at this school; even then, new security measures only came into play after the New York Times released security footage from the incident, thereby placing our school in the media’s spotlight. It seems the only time the school takes action is if they are under scrutiny from the media or parents.
These examples beg the question of whether or not this school is acting in the best interest of the students. In order to ensure “safe” housing this semester, our school has decided to have three people in a Brookdale room, rather than four or five. The change means one or two fewer people per room which, in the long run, doesn’t make a difference. It seems that by having us fill out our housing application forms now, instead of in three months, and by barely changing the room capacity and not taking into consideration the high risk of living with two other people or sharing a bathroom with twenty people on one floor, the school wishes to obtain a large sum of deposits even if this may cause a significant health risk. Our school is putting the students’ safety at the bottom of their checklist.
In terms of returning to campus in general, I wonder if the school has looked at the recent CDC report on the novel coronavirus. As of July 10, 2020, there are about 3.3 million active cases in the United States with 66,281 new cases. I wonder if the school has even taken into account that students will be traveling from Florida where, on July 12, data was released that there were 15,299 new cases, setting a record and surpassing New York with the most new cases in one day. I wonder if this school has even put safety over finance when looking at reopening. I know Rutgers has. I know Binghamton has. I know Princeton has. I know plenty of other schools have. But has Yeshiva University?
The curve is not flattening as it was expected to do this summer. The United States is experiencing the longest wave of coronavirus compared to any other country in the world, and it is not expected to slow down in the next three months.
Yeshiva University, your rash decision may cost at-risk students and older professors their health, and your rash decision may cause an unnecessary spike in cases in the New York area.
We all wish to be on campus. But I can speak for myself when I say that as a senior, I would rather give up half of my senior year, stay at home and take online classes for this semester to keep my friends and professors safe. I wish you, Yeshiva University, could say the same.