Since the outbreak of COVID-19, universities haven’t looked the same, including the University of Arizona.
As the current fall semester approached, UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced students could return to campus with a reentry plan for preventing outbreaks on campus.
However, with COVID-19 still present, some students suspect that the university could shut down anytime despite the precautions taken by the UA administration.
Valeria Chavez, a graduate student seeking a PhD in psychology, said that students and employees are living in an uncertain time.
“A lot of [students] probably know that we’re going to shut down, we’re all going to go online pretty soon,” Chavez said.
Eniola Idowu, a graduate student seeking a master of public health, agreed with Chavez.
“I have a feeling that [the] UA is going to go back to fully online,” Idowu said.
While many universities opted to go fully online for the fall, UA administration allowed students to come back to campus with the idea of possibly offering a typical semester. Financially, the UA was charging students a tuition to similar the amounts from the previous academic year.
“I feel [UA leaders] have prioritized capital gain over student health and well-being,” Chavez said.
Outside of the financial aspects of college life, the social aspect has changed for some.
Vincent Jasso, a UA senior student, said that college could be fun without large gatherings where people are shoulder-to-shoulder.
Jasso said that small gatherings give the chance for people to get to know other people in a deep way and open the space for deep conversations.
“[In small gatherings, students] can interact with people in a more meaningful way,” Jasso said.
Since COVID-19 is also a part of student life, there are different concerns about school shutting down.
According to Chavez, the mindset of an individual depends on how students think about their own position in society and for freshmen who are coming post-high school, college could give them a sense of freedom.
"Amid a global pandemic, there are still students who simply don’t care about others," Chavez said. Idowu added that students in different stages of college may have different priorities that do not take public health into account.
“Having that mindset of not caring is also harming your own health as well,” Idowu said. “When you use that mindset you really just not taking responsibility of how it can affect the community that you’re in.”
On Sept. 9, Robbins said in the reentry news conference, that a partnership with Pima County and the City of Tucson will help hold students accountable.
“We’re collaborating with Tucson city officials to respond to reports of off campus gatherings, that violate city ordinances and undermine health and safety guidelines,” Robbins said.
Experiences from students living off campus indicated otherwise.
Chavez said that she was not aware of the university making efforts to address COVID-19 off campus even though she always goes through her email.
“I haven’t seen anything related to off campus stuff,” Chavez said.
Chavez described the UA as a bubble, where everything stays on campus although employees and many students are out of that bubble.
Jasso said that the UA needs to push the protocols and make them work off campus.
It is not a secret that there have been parties on and off campus. Jasso, who lives in a dorm, witnessed one firsthand when he went to visit his girlfriend, who lives off campus. Right above Jasso’s girlfriend's apartment there was a loud and packed party.
Jasso called the University of Arizona Police Department, which transferred the call to the Tucson Police Department, saying that they need to shut the party down because there were a lot of people.
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According to Jasso, TPD replied saying that unless there is a physical violence occurring at the party, they would not send out a police officer to shut down the party.
Jasso added that the party was so loud that it sounded like they were breaking furniture up.
Showing frustration on his face, Jasso wondered if UADP and TPD were properly enforcing restrictions.
“There is a lack of desire to actually enforce the rules,” Jasso said.
In the meantime, Jasso and his friends were estimating the exact date that the university might shut down.
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