By Devorah Gurevich, Opinion Editor
On April 28, the administration announced that YU would be returning to in-person classes starting in Fall 2021. Although not explicitly mentioned in the mass email, online courses will no longer be offered. As a junior undergraduate at Stern, there are several reasons why I believe that YU should continue to provide options for studying remotely.
I started attending YU in Fall 2019, and I was excited to begin my college experience. As we all know, in March of the following year, every student’s life changed rather abruptly, and for the past year and a half, most of us have been learning online. We have been forced to adapt to our new circumstances and grieve our college years. After all this time away from campus, I personally had to change my plans, and my life has taken a different direction. The college experience that I thought lay ahead in 2019 has changed drastically for me, and I no longer expect or desire the same things from my university. To be forced to transition back to the original structure and expectations at this point in my life feels unfair.
This past year, I was blessed to marry my husband at our beautiful and COVID-19-safe wedding. The wedding was not exactly what I imagined, but it turned out to be so much more. The only trouble now is that I expected to be able to continue attending Stern courses remotely. My husband is not a U.S. citizen, and to arrange for his permission to enter the U.S. so last minute as YU only announced in-person courses in April is a feat I can’t be asked to perform (given current immigration processing center standards). Moreover, we hadn’t planned on renting an expensive apartment in New York, and I’m sure other young couples can relate to the struggle of finding affordable housing in the city — all the more so if they are parents and have to juggle childcare costs on top of everything else.
Furthermore, now that I have spent most of my college years thus far attending university online, I have become acclimated to this structure and actually find that there are many benefits. I love that I can attend all my classes from the comfort of my home, as this allows me to spend more time with my family. I further feel that I have more time in the day to stay on top of schoolwork and relationships, and I have even started my own business. If I were forced to commute for multiple hours a day, it would be a considerable struggle to balance all of these responsibilities. Moreover, with Zoom classes, there is more opportunity to discuss further and ask questions, whereas it would be more difficult to interrupt the teacher in person to ask for clarity on a topic. I enjoy the ability to have space for myself even when attending classes.
Considering my predicament, I have been given two options by the administration: take a leave of absence or move to New York in just a couple of months. But why should I have to choose between putting my education on hold and being forced to move to NY? Ultimately, after the incredible hardship this pandemic has brought upon the world, YU students have found themselves in many different situations, far from where they were when they left YU’s campuses last year in March. We cannot simply go ‘back to normal’; our new normal needs to recognize and accommodate those who are still dealing with the effects of this pandemic — even if they do not represent the majority — and acknowledge that YU students still need the option of learning remotely.