Over the past few months, San Diego State University has operated like an invincible force.
In the midst of a worsening global pandemic, SDSU has been treating itself as if the rules don’t apply — bringing 33,000+ students back onto campus with a large majority of freshmen once again crammed into dorm rooms.
Communal bathrooms don’t seem to be a cause for concern, floors with over 120 students between three hallways don’t seem to be an issue, classrooms full of students — vaccinated or not — are the least of all evils, even in the midst of a virus variant that spreads within one second of exposure.
The COVID-19 Delta variant introduced a completely new nightmare to tackle, but SDSU seems to believe that it’s all over.
With vaccine requirements and mask mandates in place, the university functions as if it has everything under control: for one, it doesn’t, and for two, campus should have never fully reopened to begin with.
In-person class attendance for fall 2021 should have never been a requirement.
The pandemic is evolving, new variants are emerging, new age groups are getting sicker and fewer people are believing in the deadly effects of the virus, yet here we are — reinstating class as it was before COVID-19.
And the worst part? We had no choice.
As a last-semester senior who didn’t feel safe returning to campus, I was faced with an impossible decision: move back to San Diego and put myself in the middle of COVID-19’s breeding ground or delay the last four months of my education until a safer scenario presented itself.
Although I was fully vaccinated, the efficacy of vaccines is waning with time and I knew my chances of contracting COVID were increasing as time moved forward. However, there were 18 units and four months of college left for me and it didn’t really seem worth it to delay my degree any longer.
Obviously, I wasn’t the only one.
By requiring students to return to campus this fall, SDSU forced them to choose between their personal health and safety and the viability of their education. Every COVID-19 update the university sent forth had the same foundational message: vaccines were required, in-person attendance was required and if not, there would be no degree.
Amidst these requirements was great disregard for students with hesitations. There are students who have immunocompromised people at home and professors with kids too young to be vaccinated. There are students who fear the fraternities and sororities who party like COVID-19 never existed, and then there are those students who are just simply afraid.
Unfortunately, an ear for these students with highly reasonable concerns just doesn’t exist.
You come to campus or your education halts.
How is the university, whose sole purpose is to educate its student body, fulfilling its mission by blatantly denying an education to those who just don’t quite feel safe yet?
A choice should have been given.
Students should have had the opportunity to decide if they wanted to return to campus this fall or stay online for another semester. Professors should have been allowed to choose their teaching format rather than receiving explicit instructions by the university to never use Zoom again.
It is feasible to record a class session and post it online for students who have chosen to remain at home, leaving class participation grades limited to accommodate the differences in learning formats.
I exercised my basic right to speak my mind of such things, but SDSU wouldn’t have it. They have since prioritized their profit over their people and the feeling of being powerless against such an important institution has been deeply upsetting. I’m starting to wonder if maybe that was their point all along: to abuse their power.
My recent experiences with SDSU have had no friendly or supportive component. It is strictly business and I am inhuman.
Instead of putting the concerns of their students first, SDSU rushed into a decision they were in no position to rush into, and now we are here, all 33,000 of us on campus.
My question now is not if I will get sick but when I do get sick, will the university humanize me then?
I guess only time will tell.
Lindsey Anderson is a senior studying rhetoric and writing.