University of Iowa students voice concerns about fall plans to offer in-person instruction

UI students share their frustration and concern about the university’s decision to offer in-person instruction in the fall 2020 semester.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Lillian Poulsen, News Reporter

Some University of Iowa students are concerned about the university’s decision to return to in-person instruction for the fall semester. Many worry that the public health guidelines currently in place may not be enough to protect students and their families from the coronavirus.

The UI shared its plan to offer in-person classes in early June, announcing that it would move to virtual instruction after Thanksgiving Break. Some students took to social media to express concerns about the university making students choose between their education and their safety.

Initially, some students said they were ready to return to campus after the move to virtual instruction at the end of the spring 2020 semester.

“I knew I wanted to be back on campus,” UI senior Dulce Escorcia said . “I do better when I’m on campus and get to talk to the people around me.”

However, as cases continue to rise in Johnson County, concerns about the plan to return to campus emerged.

“Part of me was hoping that Iowa would respond to this pandemic better, so I could go back to campus without risking my health,” Escorcia said. “As much as I want to be on campus, I don’t want to risk my life due to that.”

Since the announcement, UI senior Eva Sileo said some students have concerns about the university prioritizing money over education.

“The priorities of the university are much more so aligned with entertainment companies as opposed to an education-centered public facility for learning, which is what I thought I was signing up for when I went to a public college,” Sileo said. “The entire year I’ve seen the administration and the Board of Regents, or whoever is making these decisions, perpetually prioritize profiting the assets of the university over the quality of education that’s provided to the students.”

Some students have considered withdrawing from the semester to avoid contracting the coronavirus and putting their family members at risk. Escorcia said they made the decision to return to campus because they don’t want to lose a semester of education.

Although the university is requiring face coverings and encouraging social distancing, they can’t stop the spread of the coronavirus, Escorcia said. The university has no way of mandating whether students go to restaurants, bars, or spend time with their friends, they said.

UI senior Madisen Huffmann said professors should work to support students during this time. She said professors shouldn’t mandate attendance policies that require students to attend in-person classes.

“Attendance policies shouldn’t be allowed,” Huffmann said. “If they’re able to organize resources for people who aren’t comfortable attending in-person classes, that would probably be the best solution.”

Since this decision, the UI has posted on social media and sent emails encouraging students to wear face coverings, social distance, and stay at home. If the university wants students to follow public-health guidelines, Escorcia said, it shouldn’t offer in-person classes.

“I would love to stay at home and social distance, but I either do that and withdraw from the semester or put myself at risk,” Escorcia said. “It’s really frustrating that they’re encouraging people to stay home when they’re the reason why I can’t stay home.”

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