Stockton University has opened campus amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent email, the institution has listed its regulations, guidelines, and expectations to ensure a safe return to an in-person class. However, some students are still reluctant to return to campus.
“I feel that students should not be returning to campus this fall,” says Amanda Newmuis, former campus resident and current senior. “I feel strongly that the school should have stuck to solely online learning. Although this may not be beneficial for every Stockton student, it helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus and ensures that Stockton will be clear of putting vulnerable students at risk.”
Justin Hayes, a current resident and junior, also has his concerns. “I really feel like it should stay closed, because other universities are closed so we should be, too.”
Students are to wear their masks, follow arrows placed throughout campus, keep within social distancing guidelines, make daily reports about their health, sanitize stations before and after every use, and steer clear of large groups/gatherings on or off-campus. Students are to quarantine either at home or in their dorm if they exhibit any symptoms.
Popular hangout spots, as well as classrooms, now have reduced seating capacity. The food court, F-Wing, The Lodge, and the library have all seating taped off, so students remain within six feet of each other.
Though the university lists these precautions, many students still feel unsure about whether every person on campus will follow guidelines and if Stockton will hold them accountable should they break the rules.
“Individuals in a grocery store cannot follow arrow paths.” Newmuis says. “Young people on a college campus are not going to care about arrow pathways on campus. I do not think students will heed the warning of self-quarantine when it comes to exams and projects.”
Tuition costs have not decreased, despite many students being completely remote this semester.
“I believe that, unless Stockton reduces their tuition costs, students should not give Stockton a dime,” says Newmuis. “It is not fair that the institution charges the same tuition rate when a lot of the fees included are not as relevant due to the restrictions of COVID-19. I feel that Stockton cares more about the money coming out of my pocket rather than my health and safety.”
Hayes also felt that tuition costs should decrease due to the lack of typical resources. “How does someone pay $7,000 to $8,000 for Zoom classes? It’s not like you’re in person and utilizing what the college offers on-campus: computer labs, printers, the library. None of that.”
Stockton has offered a grant for those affected by COVID-19 to help with students’ costs—whether it be tuition or tools needed to complete their education. However, the grant does not compare to the grand price of tuition, and housing fees, in particular, if a student has returned to living on campus.
“The CARE grant isn’t beneficial enough for people who need the extra money,” says Hayes. “Most grants– such as PELL grants– are an average of $4,000 and divided between two semesters, which isn’t enough with an average tuition balance of around $6,500 a semester.”
While many are anxious about returning to campus, it will ultimately be up to students themselves to decide whether the risks are worth the hassle and price tag.