Challenges tangential to COVID-19
September 13, 2020 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Aside from the major ravages this year continues to bring there are many other crises that don't directly involve illness or politics or the economy. These are just a few more often-controversial problems facing the US in its current juncture, inspired by the 11 students dismissed from Northeastern for hanging out together.

- Punishment for not adhering to regulations

Northeastern Dismisses 11 Students for Gathering in Violation of COVID 19 Policies
The students were dismissed for the current semester. Per the Northeastern site a year's tuition is $54,360 not including fees or room and board. Payments by the students will not be refundable per the guidelines of their program.

Louisiana - masks: "He referred to LA RS: 29:724-E, which states that in the event of an emergency declared by the governor, any person or business violating the order can be fined up to $500 or confined in parish jail for up to 6 months."

California - masks: Fines vary by city but range from $100 to $2000 for individuals

Indiana - masks: "People who do not follow the public health order could be fined up to $1,000."

- Changes in cultural practices

"Funeral processions — led by grieving families and a brass band and followed by the "second line" of mourners — are key to New Orleans’s distinctive African American culture, which includes the city’s musicians, bone men, social aid and pleasure clubs, baby dolls, and black masking Indians, sometimes called Mardi Gras Indians."

See also: Jazz funerals

What Can I Say to Someone Who Isn't Wearing a Mask?

"But what if you feel that people should be wearing masks? How do you deal with the anger — not to mention the possible danger? Should you confront them?"

- Working from home

"Dentists have seen a surge in patients with cracked or damaged teeth over the course of the pandemic, a phenomenon some believe may be related to an increase in jaw clenching and grinding due to stress...While Chen also cites stress as a possible cause for teeth grinding, she notes that poor posture while working from home may also play a role."

"However, decentralized teams also face other, often unacknowledged challenges that can have damaging consequences for an organization if they aren't addressed: low-bandwidth communication, unnecessary meetings, and loss of passive knowledge sharing."

"In an effort to stem the number of coronavirus infections, millions of Americans are now working from home, transforming kitchen tables and bedrooms into temporary home offices. Many are working under less-than-ideal ergonomic conditions—a kitchen chair that’s too low, a table that’s too high. You get the idea. Poor ergonomics can make or break your work-from-home experience."

- Physical effects; abuse, food insecurity

"We found social factors that put people more at risk for violence are reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss or strained finances, and disconnection from social support systems,"

"During the first two months of the lockdown, March and April, pediatricians across the country reported treating more severe injuries caused by abuse, along with an increase in fatalities."

"Food insecurity is a major problem in the United States and is paradoxically associated with pediatric obesity. The team's study found a drastic increase in the percentage of families experiencing food insecurity during COVID-19."

- Mental and emotional effects; stress, suicide, despair, isolation

"It is as if COVID has come in as a multiplier of social, economic factors that are making deaths of despair even worse."


"Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department…"

The Geography of Hope and Desperation in America: An Interactive Vulnerability Indicator

"For people who experience anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, the strain of isolation is particularly heavy."

"A recent review on the psychological impact of quarantine [6] reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger."

- Homeschooling

"But others like Tyler are abstaining from teaching their children saying they don't have the time with everything else going on. Many also feel that it's unrealistic to suddenly expect a parent to become an educator without any preparation"

"This week, on the themed Minecraft day, our son decided to loan his sister a Minecraft shirt so she could better celebrate the day with him. They read Minecraft books and played a Minecraft tag game outside. When it came time to do his assigned poetry lesson, he decided to write it on—you guessed it—Minecraft."
posted by bendy (74 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Payments by the students will not be refundable, per guidelines of the N.U.in Program.

Oh, there's a big surprise. That's an incredible...
posted by krisjohn at 3:30 PM on September 13 [7 favorites]


UK student fined £10,000 for holding a house party attended by ~50 people.

Our fresher's week starts today, and term next week (not the uni above). The town is noticeably filling up with returning and new students. While many international students are electing to stay at home and learn remotely, there will still be plenty of students coming from all over the world. We've got some pretty strict regs in place but it seems like a matter of time before there's an outbreak.

For myself, as an academic, I've never started a new term so exhausted. I'm usually worn out by the last 2 weeks of term and I'm concerned about my resilience for the months ahead. I'm way behind on teaching prep and Covid has messed up timelines for research projects so they have to be modified, which is a lot of work too. Its been a shit 18 months with Brexit followed by Covid and I'm fed up of the whole thing.
posted by biffa at 3:52 PM on September 13 [26 favorites]


I've only read the final link in this magnificent list, but it was charming and I'm glad to have read it today.
posted by hippybear at 4:10 PM on September 13 [5 favorites]


Virginia Tech has, so far, (interim) suspended 40 students for "not following public health guidelines." Among rumors of VT having absolutely no interest in going 100% virtual, it's interesting news.
posted by introp at 4:32 PM on September 13 [8 favorites]


I have to say that as a college professor, I have zero problem with students who violate public health guidelines no longer being allowed on campus. We're talking about a disease that can potentially kill or cripple people here, including the campus community members who are trying to be careful.

It would be nice if the students were allowed to complete their classes remotely wherever that's possible; that's essentially the tactic my employer has said they will use for violations. But even in normal times, you don't generally get your tuition back if you willfully break campus rules and get suspended, and I'm not sure why anyone would expect that to change for violations of rules that are even more consequential.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:59 PM on September 13 [77 favorites]


I've been really interestedly scouring the demographics of these stories of colleges suspending or expelling students for violating Covid guidelines and -- to exactly nobody's surprise -- the expelled students in stories where I can ascertain gender are overwhelmingly male. Also seeing a hell of a lot more about fraternities being suspended for violating Covid guidelines than sororities. As car insurance rates will happily inform you, young American men age 18-22 are very disproportionately likely to take stupid risks and make bad decisions compared to other Americans. But it's really interesting to see the consequences of that so clearly illustrated during a global pandemic. I hope lots and lots of social scientists are studying risk assessment and decisions making and peer influences and so on, on American college students during Covid.

My own alma mater has single-sex dormitories, and when they had a big Covid exposure via a party at the beginning of school, I said "I 100% bet that was an X Hall party." (I said it on facebook, alumni of all different eras agreed that was absolutely going to be the case.) Because X hall, a men's dorm, has had a reputation for THIRTY YEARS (or more!) as the hardest-partying dorm on campus, the most vulgar, the most horny, etc. What's really interesting is, my alma mater assigns students to dorms at random, and students stay in those dorms all four years. (Something like 85% of seniors still live on campus, in the same dorm.) So it's not like they're self-selecting as party boys -- they're randomly assigned there, and then inculturated into the dorm's hard-partying lifestyle. Anyway, the campus paper just reported that X hall has TWICE the rate of Covid cases as any other dorm on campus (even though it has a high proportion of single rooms). And generally the rates in women's dorms are running lower than the rates in men's dorms across the board, but not quite so dramatically.

It's just like this perfect little natural experiment in group identity and decision-making and risk assessment and so on.

---

Relating to other links, I'm super-worried about my teeth, I'm clenching them all the dang time. My jaw frequently hurts from teeth-clenching.

And GOD is being with your children 24/7 tough. I'm also sort-of bitter because I had been at home with a child with me for ten solid years, and FINALLY my youngest started preschool and I was getting four! hours! a! day! by myself with no children, and that lasted all of six months. They're just so NOISY, they never stop TALKING. They've been troopers and I'm proud of them and it's a bullshit situation that's harder for them than it is for me. But also? THEY NEVER STOP TALKING.

There's a massive shortage of children's desks and related furniture -- everyone frantically buying them for distance learning -- and after a comedy of errors we finally managed to acquire two lofts with desks under. (My sons share a room and had been in bunk beds that were intended for smaller kids and we hadn't gotten around to changing yet, which I guess turned out to be good.) Our house only really has one public room -- the living room/dining room -- and we'd all been working at the dining room table in the spring which is hard when everyone has zooms, so we needed DESKS. And there was no room for desks in their room unless we lofted the beds, so my husband and I spent the weekend -- more than 8 solid hours -- building flatpack lofts with desks underneath. They fit with literally a centimeter to spare. (Only two walls were loft-amenable and they meet in a corner.) Anyway their room now looks like a dorm room and it's making me a little nostalgic. I tried to get them some cool accessories since this year is bullshit and distance learning sucks, so it'd at least be kinda special. We put up LEDs that change colors under each bed (bonus: better light for Zooms if they use white), and got them desk lamps and organizers and everything so they have very cute little "offices" under there. I'm slightly jealous!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:59 PM on September 13 [44 favorites]


Going forward we should adopt the clothing of Logan's Run movie: yellow for no COVID history, green for post-COVID survivors & vaccinated, and red for the currently infectious.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:11 PM on September 13 [8 favorites]


And black for political appointees whose choices result in the unnecessary deaths of others?
posted by those are my balloons at 6:28 PM on September 13 [21 favorites]


When you're young and immortal such trivial things simply don't apply to you...
posted by jim in austin at 6:44 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how many American campuses have reopened for all or mostly face-to-face education. Last month the Chronicle of Higher Ed had about 1/4th planning on doing so, but they haven't updated their tracker since August 21.

Let's say that 1/4th has dropped a bit, down to 1/5th. That's about 850 colleges and universities, roughly. I'm not sure what proportion of them are mostly residential. So, guessing now, let's say n hundred campuses are hosting in-personal education during a national + global pandemic.

Given the sociology of students, given the unevenness of administrative leadership and support, given the stresses of this term... we should see a lot more expulsions.
posted by doctornemo at 7:05 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that colleges should be able to keep tuition when their policies/protections were insufficient.
How were they insufficient? All this happened. Grade on results rather than intention, after all.
If a school can't figure out how to keep parties & transmission down, they shouldn't have opened in the first place.
posted by CrystalDave at 7:28 PM on September 13 [11 favorites]


I think it's ridiculous anyone had to a pay a 50 thousand dollar plus tuition in the first place, but that's just me.
posted by eagles123 at 7:29 PM on September 13 [22 favorites]


Grade on results rather than intention, after all.

That's for the peons, not the people in charge.
posted by tclark at 7:30 PM on September 13 [6 favorites]


But even in normal times, you don't generally get your tuition back if you willfully break campus rules and get suspended, and I'm not sure why anyone would expect that to change for violations of rules that are.

I guess I'm more inclined to blame the administrators who decided that housing eight hundred 17 year olds in a Westin was a great idea than I am to make an example out of the 17 year olds.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:33 PM on September 13 [68 favorites]


Going forward we should adopt the clothing of Logan's Run movie: yellow for no COVID history, green for post-COVID survivors & vaccinated, and red for the currently infectious.

I assume the vaccinated will have to get tattoos. Not joking.

We shouldn't expect college students to refrain from seeing their friends and partying when adults clearly aren't stopping either. Nothing is working to get a certain section of the population from being around other humans even if it means death.

My mother said they are fining people in my hometown for not wearing masks, but I don't see them on this list. But if it's true, good for them.

Miss Manners herself has said there's no point in trying to talk to anyone about masks. (Washington Post link)

"They already know. Do you imagine that they have escaped hearing that masks are recommended, if not required, and why?
Miss Manners has long tried to make people understand that scofflaws do not reform when shamed by strangers. Rather, they fight back.
She supposes you could carry wrapped masks and say, “I have an extra mask if you need one.” But surely the best way to protect yourself is not to confront such people, but to move quickly away from them."

posted by jenfullmoon at 7:35 PM on September 13 [19 favorites]


American men age 18-22 are very disproportionately likely to take stupid risks and make bad decisions compared to other Americans.

Which is why colleges probably shouldn't be having them on-campus in the first place. Is there any place where this hasn't yet led to outbreaks? Northeastern is basically trying to make this work anyway by imposing heavy consequences, which, in fairness, the students were warned about in August.
posted by eye of newt at 7:49 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


> Is there any place where this hasn't yet led to outbreaks?

Dog bites neither man, nor dog doesn't make headlines, unfortunately. Many colleges are using wastewater testing for COVID-19 to their advantage, as reported by the Wichita Eagle.
posted by fragmede at 8:04 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


WCVB: Parents of suspended Northeastern University students hire lawyer.

In addition to heavy potential penalties, Northeastern has some really rigorous testing requirements - students get tested every three days, with samples analyzed mainly in a lab the school built for just that purpose (Northeastern Covid-19 dashboard).

The big Boston college Covid-19 news this week, though, is the outbreak at Boston College, about five miles from Northeastern, where an initial 13 cases among the school's swimming and diving teams (unlike other Boston-area schools, BC did NOT suspend athletics for the fall) has now spread among other students. Unlike Northeastern (and BU and Harvard), the school was only doing random testing among students on campus.

The BC campus sits on the Boston/Newton line; officials from the two cities and the state held an emergency meeting with BC yesterday and basically took over contact tracing and followup from the school. The mayor of Newton also said it might be time for BC to send students home and warned it not to even think of trying to rent off-campus space in her city to house positive or suspected positive students, now that BC is running out of space in its designated quarantine "dorm" - a motel in Boston that had been slated for demolition (BC dashboard).
posted by adamg at 8:11 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


The mayor of Newton also said it might be time for BC to send students home

Bringing in a bunch of kids from around the country, infecting them with a pandemic disease, and then sending them back home is not a good idea at all.

BC would do better just to sit on the students and try to deal as best they can with the students not being sent home.
posted by hippybear at 8:17 PM on September 13 [13 favorites]


Good point, one that Dr. Fauci has made. The mayor said BC should test students before sending them home and only let the ones who test negative leave right away - and quarantine the rest (just not in her city).
posted by adamg at 8:22 PM on September 13


the campus paper just reported that X hall has TWICE the rate of Covid cases as any other dorm on campus 

There are enough cases in each residence that it's possible to calculate a rate?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:42 PM on September 13 [8 favorites]


For anyone who is curious, here's my current collection of dashboards for universities that are testing at large scale:

BU. Harvard. Northeastern. MIT. Cornell. UIUC. Tulane.

I'm sure there are others, but by my rough count, these seven schools amount to ~30,000 tests a day (10,000 of which is UIUC's innovative saliva test). That's around 5% of all US testing right now.
posted by chortly at 8:44 PM on September 13 [5 favorites]


From the news link adamg posted

The students were enrolled in the N.U.in Program, a study-abroad experience for first-year students. The gathering of 11 students was discovered by two N.U.in staff members, who were on call and making rounds of the building, the school said.

So, it sounds like the students were part of a study abroad program. I guess they were housed in the hotel until leaving for their destination? Or they were housed in a hotel because they couldn't leave due to travel restrictions and the university didn't have sufficient dormspace?

According to the program website deposits were due on the May 1st and June 15th of this year. Did they have opportunities for refunds knowing the conditions of their program. Did they even have a choice even if they could get a refund? College has been sold as the ticket to legitimate life for as long as a can remember; I still remember Obama saying everyone should get at least a "good liberal arts education."

Look, the National Basketball Association is in the middle of concluding a successful truncated season at the Walt Disney World Resort without any COVID related disruptions. They achieved this feat through rapid testing and an entry process that allowed them to create a "bubble" around teams and league officials. While residents of the bubble face restrictions regarding who they can bring into the bubble, once inside they are free to socialize in groups similar to the "party" these kids are supposed to have attended. Here is a picture: Look ma, not even a mask!

By now we know from studies of SARS-COV-2 transmission that the disease spreads extremely well in environments like cruise ships, aircraft carriers, prisons, and multi-family dwellings (e.g. apartments). We are talking like 90%+ attack rates. Gee, what environment most resembles those conditions; oh, I don't know, maybe a college campus where students are packed in dorms and apartments, often living together in one room, sharing bathrooms, eating together, and sharing classrooms?

To truly prevent spread, colleges and universities would have needed to: (1) test everyone coming in, (2) test everyone at least every other day, (3) have kids attend classes virtually, (4) have kids take turns using the bathroom, and (5) have kids eat alone at tables on a schedule so dining halls are at most at 1/8th to 1/16th maximum occupancy. Even that probably wouldn't be enough. It would also basically amount to a form of solitary confinement. I would advise reading the impressive collection of links in this post about the psychological effects of isolation and lockdowns.

The decision to open for in person learning without having created a bubble like the NBA did is unconscionable.

But instead of looking at the economic and societal pressures leading to this calamity, we'll just blame the kids and condone stealing thousands of dollars from them that will put they and their families in debt. I think this Atlantic article was posted to blue: America is Trapped in a pandemic Spiral

But tattered social safety nets are less visible than crowded bars. Pushing for universal health care is harder than shaming an unmasked stranger. Fixing systemic problems is more difficult than spewing moralism, and Americans gravitated toward the latter. News outlets illustrated pandemic articles with (often distorted) photos of beaches, even though open-air spaces offer low-risk ways for people to enjoy themselves. Marcus attributes this tendency to America’s puritanical roots, which conflate pleasure with irresponsibility, and which prize shame over support. “The shaming gets codified into bad policy,” she says.

And yes, closing campuses now and releasing kids exposed to SARS-COV 2 back to their communities to spread the disease to family members much more likely than them to suffer complications would be the worst possible move at this point.
posted by eagles123 at 8:58 PM on September 13 [25 favorites]


"(10,000 of which is UIUC's innovative saliva test). That's around 5% of all US testing right now."

UIUC is doing SO MANY DAILY TESTS that it throws off the positivity rate for Illinois as a whole, and Champaign County's numbers are hot garbage. I mean this in a good way! But the state public health authorities append a note to the numbers they release EVERY DAY saying that UIUC is running an absurd number of tests and changing the denominator on tests by a LOT, and not to take UIUC's universal testing (and resulting low positivity rate) as indicative that the state is safer than it is. If you're looking at a 6.8% positivity rate among people who affirmatively go get tests because they worry they've been exposed, you should not look at UIUC's 0.5% positivity rate from universal testing of a population that skews young and healthy and think the state is doing amazing and we're all safe! The statewide positivity rate is 3.8%, which sounds AMAZING, but Cook and the collar counties are all between 5% and 7.5% (some rural counties are near 10%) -- UIUC is yanking that rate down HARD.

UIUC is one of the very few schools I think has opened MOSTLY responsibly, and only because their saliva test appears to work. Partly because of their universal twice-weekly testing, they've been responding fast and aggressively to cases and they've been suspending and expelling. But I think they got lucky; their saliva test could have NOT worked out, and then it'd be like Iowa (purging infected students home to surrounding communities and states with basically zero Covid control plan) but bigger. And I'm not 100% convinced they'll make it to December, because 18-22-year-old young people who are lonely and bored and horny and burnt out because they're working very, very hard are going to break rules.

Another intriguing thing Illinois universities have seen this year is, for the first time in a decade or more, most (all?) of the directional state universities (i.e., state schools that aren't UIUC) have seen increases in enrollment. Speculation is that students chose to a) live at home and attend the school that was closest, rather than risk dorms; and/or b) figured if they were attending school mostly or entirely online, they might as well do it at a cheaper state school rather than an expensive private, out-of-state, or flagship school. Haven't seen if community college enrollment is up in Illinois yet, but I'll be curious to see that as well -- might suggest students wanting to knock off courses but not wanting to pay full freight for online courses. So that might be another tangential covid effect.

"Which is why colleges probably shouldn't be having them on-campus in the first place. "

I admit I've wondered, idly, if any private colleges would be ballsy enough to only allow women to attend in person, or to use car insurance rate-setting tools to assess the risk profiles of their individual students. I feel like they'd get sued into oblivion for the former, but I wonder if private colleges might be allowed to do the latter. (Not that this would be a GOOD thing, just that if I were in risk assessment for a private college, boy would that data be very very tempting right about now.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:22 PM on September 13 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm more inclined to blame the administrators who decided that housing eight hundred 17 year olds in a Westin was a great idea than I am to make an example out of the 17 year olds.

I generally take a systems approach too. But the problem with all of these things is that they all suffer from iterative regress. So, if you send all the recent HS grads back, then they're stuck without job prospects in their home towns and suffering existential defeat there. The profs and support staff won't earn salary if the school closes. The college towns will suffer even more greatly from reduced demand. Local landlords will be unable to pay mortgages, etc, etc.

I'm not saying freshman college classes are where we need to draw a line, but we need to enable the activities that we can. And we need people in those activities to take a part of the responsibility to help carry it off.

I saw that post earlier about the college<>influencer thing and how everyone expects colleges to be closed by Thanksgiving. Maybe. But maybe this is one arena where people can roughly succeed in spite of Covid. I like their chances better than, say, preschool classes.

(Typically this kind of thing is explained from the top down and the example of behavior is modeled by leaders at the highest levels, but you all know that's a big nope.)
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:24 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying freshman college classes are where we need to draw a line, but we need to enable the activities that we can. And we need people in those activities to take a part of the responsibility to help carry it off.

It seems if we're going to do this sort of "Hey, put yourself at increased risk without sufficient structural support" calculus, the terms should be balanced. Make every college guarantee all medical expenses for all their students. If you get COVID, we'll pay whatever it costs. If your family gets COVID because you got COVID, we'll pay their costs as well.

(I really don't care about financial feasibility when proposing this, so that's a non-starter)
posted by CrystalDave at 9:49 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Re university COVID-19 dashboards, there's a pretty good collection of them on the FB page of Karen Kelsky (The Professor Is In): https://www.facebook.com/TheProfessorIsIn/posts/3359566894089834
posted by pleasant_confusion at 9:52 PM on September 13


The best rapid testing idea I've heard of is on MedCram--the Youtube channel that was originally created to explain research papers to med students, but morphed into a Covid information site when the virus hit. (Most of its videos are still geared for med students).

Their idea is these Covid test strips operate just like pregnancy tests. You don't need to drive anywhere or send anything off to a lab or specialized equipment. It isn't as sensitive as a lot of tests out there but it is definitely sensitive enough to catch if you've become contagious.

So the idea is that you give lots of these to everyone. And everyone tests themselves every day. You just put some spit on it and look for the second line to show up. If you are contagious, you immediately quarantine yourself. Here's their overview video. You can check out their channel for more technical details.

I'm really surprised this idea isn't being implemented everywhere. I don't know how much these paper strips cost though. I think I'll start putting this out there more. I think the idea could have a big impact on the disease spread. Right now people can walk around (or party) for a week before they even realize they are contagious, which is why it spreads so easily and so fast.

It would be great if we could just put a halt to the disease spreading.
posted by eye of newt at 10:25 PM on September 13 [9 favorites]


Thanks pleasant_confusion! That Facebook dashboard page also links to a nice Google Doc with all the dashboards in a tidy list.

For my own interests, I wish the google doc had a column for the number of tests being done daily; it seems like there are only a few universities who attempt to test everyone at least weekly (as opposed to random surveillance sampling) which is what I personally had been curious about apropos Northeastern, UIUC, and the other schools in my list who are attempting to do massive universal testing.

(Clicking through to those dashboards, btw, is a peculiar exercise. They all look straight-forward, serious but clear-eyed, and relatively optimistic -- almost all showing low positivity and relatively constant rates. It takes a real effort of imagination to realize that almost every dashboard entails dozens of students with Covid, quietly quarantining in whatever dorms the university has set aside for them, each school enough cases to shut down an entire city in much of the rest of the world.)
posted by chortly at 10:41 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


For $54k a year, that's way more than a car for hopefully most of these students. Is there an insurance policy you can buy in case you get kicked out? If I paid $54k and was not refunded I would certainly be talking to a lawyer.

The expensive school thing goes both ways.
posted by geoff. at 10:51 PM on September 13 [3 favorites]


Is there an insurance policy you can buy in case you get kicked out? If I paid $54k and was not refunded I would certainly be talking to a lawyer.

An insurance policy would not cover you for criminal activity or breaking the rules. I could buy insurance on my house and burn it down deliberately and I wouldn't get a payout, I'd probably be charged for fraud instead. I could purchase homeowners insurance, but then rent the place out for profit and then try to make a claim for damages and they would rightly says I'm breaking the rules by buying the cheaper home owners insurance rather than landlords insurance and then deny my claim.

I'm currently doing my part time masters while working and the movement restrictions and curfews have worked out really well. The university immediately moved to distance learning via Zoom, doing online group presentations as YouTube video uploads and doing exams online. I am finding that paradoxically with everyone cooped up at home people have more time to devote to studying and assignments and the quality of everyone's presentation and research has improved dramatically. I have been seriously impressed. I also no longer have to take a 90 minute commute to attend a 3 hour class each week, which is great.

Zoom has also proven to a fantastic classroom experience: the ability to immediately have small group discussions (3-4 people) in random groups is so much better than doing it in person: in the lecture hall it's extremely noisy, if you physically go to breakout rooms it wastes time: and the selection of your discussion partners is not random enough in person. Savvy lecturers use online tools to great effect: live polls with live discussion, taking questions in chat, students able to immediately screen-share their findings with the class.
posted by xdvesper at 11:28 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


We shouldn't expect college students to refrain from seeing their friends and partying when adults clearly aren't stopping either.

This.

In England there's an attitude of 'Well, if they're not doing it, why should I?' which started here.

We've now thrown away all the good work done in the lockdown and are well into our second spike, with a weekly rolling average of new cases higher than it was at the end of May.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:54 PM on September 13 [10 favorites]


"Their idea is these Covid test strips operate just like pregnancy tests. You don't need to drive anywhere or send anything off to a lab or specialized equipment. It isn't as sensitive as a lot of tests out there but it is definitely sensitive enough to catch if you've become contagious."

This is the UIUC saliva test, operating under an FDA emergency use authorization, and using the campus population as a test population to see how the test performs. It's inexpensive (UIUC can run it for as little as $1.30/sample), it requires only spit, and does not require technicians to open/contact the test -- but results take at least five hours and do require a medical laboratory, as the test must be heated to 95*C. (They're processing them all in the veterinary laboratory at UIUC.) To get a 5-hour turnaround, the tests also require geographic proximity. It's one thing to test the entire campus community, where golf carts can run the test tubes to the lab. It would be another thing entirely to implement in a city like Chicago. ISU, which doesn't have a med school or vet school, is paying in excess of $1 million to create a lab that can use the UIUC saliva test on the campus community, which is only around 21,000 students. The UIUC lab runs 24 hours a day on weekdays. (And not quite 24 hours a day on weekends.) Tests are all linked to student or staff IDs, and campus buildings are locked to IDs that don't have a negative test in the past 4 days.

That's a whole lot of conditions that a testing regime would have to replicate using the current fastest-available tests. It's totally doable! But the city of Chicago would be looking at performing 60 times the number of daily tests that UIUC does (and scientists suggest UIUC should be testing 3x/week, not 2x week, so increase everything to 150%), and would require enough labs to process all of those tests ... and for Americans to agree to tracking. Which probably a lot of them would, but definitely some of them would sue the state and throw a big fuss about it.

Like I have big hope! And I have been embedded in Illinois bureaucracy for 15 years now, so I totally know what the state can do when it sets its mind to it, and Illinois can manage BIG THINGS. Chicago can manage VERY big things! But this is a HUGE lift that would require a shit-ton of money and a LOT of logistical coordination and MASSIVE outreach. I think it could be done! But it would require massive political will and a big influx of cash. And the test still has limitations. I'm hopeful! But I'm planning on my kids not going back to school this school year in Illinois, because even though UIUC has what looks like the best fast test IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, I don't think it's going to be enough to get my kids back in the classroom.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:00 AM on September 14 [16 favorites]


Seeing Northeastern story last week, it kind of unlocked an aha moment for me. My decent, not great college (ranked pretty decently among midwestern liberal arts colleges with a student population of about 2000, so carefully cultivated small pond to be a pretty fish in) was about $20k in my first year, rising a bit every year, so that my senior year, it was $21k. This was back in the late 90s, and I ended up leaving the country and teaching EFL overseas to pay back my debt, which was about $25000. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading about the craziness of loans and the impossible burden, and thinking, shit, yeah, college is too expensive, but until I saw this, I don’t think I got it. The $50k figure is tuition only. One semester. Room and board, it’s over $70k, ending up at $150000 a year. Aside from everything else, what could the university *possibly* offer that would be worth starting life with $600k of debt? My mind can’t even process that.

As far as masks and talking to people, I’m back at my high school in Tokyo, and on a daily basis, I have students walking into class with no masks, teachers leaving the bathroom without washing their hands, and it’s just in general terrifying with the celebrities on tv wearing clear plastic foodservice masks designed to prevent spit from falling into food (open at the top), and now seeing people wearing them on trains, because if it’s on tv, it must be okay!

But, I was talking to one of my classes last week, a class of tenth graders who were clearly struggling with wearing masks, and started asking them about why we’re wearing them, and honestly, few of them could give a reason why, and seemed stunned about the idea that masks mostly protect other people from a sick person. No one had really bothered to explain this to them, and they’d just sort of gone along because it was what they were told to do.

I mean, I wish I could say that they’re all much better now, but yeah, I can still see the same noses as before, but at least now they pull up their mask when I mention it.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:24 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


An insurance policy would not cover you for criminal activity or breaking the rules.

As a general thing from personal experience, that might not be the case. I'm in an ongoing legal dispute with a trio of professionals -- building owner, his attorney, and his architect, in several judicial venues at the same time. Their wrongdoings may not be criminal, but I am showing that their wrongdoings are illegal. These "bad guys" are bitching in the courts that their legal fees are pushing $1M. As I understand it, professional insurance policies are covering their legal fees.

It roughly comes under malpractice insurance.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:36 AM on September 14


As I understand it, their professional insurance policies are covering their legal fees.

Yep... my understanding is professional insurance policies is explicitly insuring them for the cost of being sued due to malpractice (misbehavior) so it applies whether they are innocent or guilty. That's why professional insurance costs so much. In the medical field its not uncommon for doctors to pay over A$100,000 per year in indemnity insurance.

It's a different kind of product to home and contents insurance.
posted by xdvesper at 1:58 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


If you are contagious, you immediately quarantine yourself.

I don't want to be a doomsayer, but this seems like a big problem for roughly half of the US. Like in addition to people who can't afford to quarantine, I can imagine a large group that would willfully ignore it because they don't care.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:37 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


The question of whether college tuition is exorbitant (it is) or whether colleges should be re-opening their dorms (they should not) are both different from the question of whether those who willfully break covid rules should get a refund -- or to put it another way, if they should have to pay a $54k fine. The Kentucky man who went gallivanting around Canada is paying ten times that.

This isn't a situation where the college failed to inform the students of the risks and responsibilities of participating in the program; they got repeated reminders and also presumably haven't been living under a rock for the last 6 months. This isn't a situation where the students were required to party in order to maintain their grade, in analogy to the people at all socioeconomic levels are being required to do their job in unsafe conditions/without adequate PPE.

They were told that breaking the covid rules to have a party was a single sanction event. They decided to break that rule (because ... teen invincibility, underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, peer pressure, insert your excuse here). They are being sanctioned. In normal times it would definitely be excessive; but these are not normal times. These are times when parties become superspreader events and leave other people -- who likely weren't even at the party at all -- dead. Is $54k worth a human life?

I don't see this as "making an example" of those 11 students (although I can see how it could be read that way). I do see this as taking steps to ensure the other 807 students in their program, not to mention the faculty, the housekeeping staff, and others who come into contact with them remain safe. If anyone should have standing to sue, I'd think it would be those folks.
posted by basalganglia at 4:19 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


So, it sounds like the students were part of a study abroad program. I guess they were housed in the hotel until leaving for their destination?

That hotel is the abroad this year.

I suspect that NUin is a way for NU to juice some of its retention rate for rankings; freshmen accepted to things like study abroad programs don't count towards freshman retention rates, so schools trying to move up the rankings commonly have programs to dump their at-risk population into instead of accepting them normally.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:14 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


The $50k figure is tuition only. One semester. Room and board, it’s over $70k, ending up at $150000 a year.

That cost is yearly, not per semester. You can see Northeastern's costs here; looks like undergrad tuition would be ~$54k, plus around $15k for room and board. (Assuming you were paying full freight, of course, which many students do not.)

That's still a crazy amount of money, but at least it isn't $150k/year.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:30 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


I have to say that as a college professor, I have zero problem with students who violate public health guidelines no longer being allowed on campus.

Totally agree. Here at Iowa, we are now a covid-19 hotspot. We have done hardly any testing at all, and depend entirely on students self-reporting that they have covid. One of the first cases here lamented how difficult it was to get a test and how poorly she was treated, and so she (while sick) took a bus back home to Chicago! We are close to 2000 cases after the first couple weeks. Our governor, who refuses to order mask mandates or let schools chose online learning, did order bars to close in our county. Which is hilarious because she thinks it will stop students from partying. Also, most bars also serve some kind of bar food, which has allowed most to stay open anyway. The students all had to sign documents saying that they would follow distancing and mask guidelines. If there are no consequences for not following them then the entire thing has no teeth. Even with potential consequences, it's still largely unenforceable and I don't expect a very good outcome for us.

What bothers me most though is like the University has no concern for the community. Like, we aren't just a bunch of undergrads living in some sort of total isolation. We are in the middle of a city with, you know, grocery store workers and healthcare workers and other people riding the buses. And maybe you feel it's fine if a bunch of 20 year olds in a dorm have covid, but they don't just stay in that dorm. They go to Target and Hy-Vee and ride the bus and go to classes in buildings where some of us have labs where our subjects are elderly people at high risk for covid complications.

God help us when it gets cold and people can no longer hang out outside.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:36 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


Is there any place where this hasn't yet led to outbreaks?

It's hard to tell. There isn't good data on this. The New York Times threw 30+ staff at the problem and ended up with a tracker that covers about 1/3rd of US higher ed.
posted by doctornemo at 7:35 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


My institution is doing 2x weekly testing for students (in addition to pre-arrival and immediate post-arrival testing), and also de-densified campus: the goal was to get to about 50% daily capacity for classes, which they did by doing a mix of fully online and rotating attendance classes. The dorms have also been reduced, but not fully to singles, unfortunately. We've got mandatory masking, and there've been ventilation improvements--my office is pretty close to one of the machines for my building, which has been running almost constantly. We're also in a region of the country that's seen lower transmission rates; most of our students come from the surrounding area.

We're over two weeks in now, so we've beaten a few other places that have gotten that far and run out of quarantine space/already had a big spike, but we're still seeing about 5 cases a day or so. Which sounds great, but if it keeps up like that, that's 500 cases by the end of the semester. (Which will allow the administration to claim victory, since that'll keep the positivity rate under 2%).
posted by damayanti at 7:37 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


About that $50,000 tuition:

Please remember that not all students pay the published tuition. Colleges and universities offer a good number of students discounts of various kinds, including grants and scholarships.

This isn't a rare thing. It happens so often that we now speak of a "discount rate," which means how much less than published tuition the median student pays. Discounts rates vary now, but they're in the 40s and 50s on average, according to the last data I saw.

Why do this? It's a reaction to escalating income and wealth inequality. Charge the economic elite top dollar, and that lets the campus charge less for everyone else.

Many chief financial officers consider the approach unsustainable.
posted by doctornemo at 7:39 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Also, something that was not really discussed in the initial backlash to UIUC’s reopening: the reason they had to shut down again was not that people were partying, but rather that they were continuing to party after receiving a positive coronavirus test. I totally agree college admin deserves blame for bad reopening plans, and that you can’t keep 18-year-olds from partying at college, and that older people are setting shitty examples, but also, going to a frat party after knowingly testing positive is straight up sociopath behavior to me.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:39 AM on September 14 [22 favorites]


I'm very thankful that my employer (Cal State, largest public university system in the nation with ~500,000 total students enrolled at 23 campuses) is actually being responsible about this: our (system) Chancellor decided last May to move to nearly all-online instruction for this Fall, and we received notice last week that Spring 2021 will be virtual, as well. So I won't be back in an actual, physical classroom for the next calendar year at this point, but at least have somewhat adequate prep time.

This is intrinsically terrible, and the effects on everyone will be very, very difficult (seriously, the looks on my students' faces during our Zoom classes already is generally grim, we do not have the inter- and intra-personal reserves for 9-12 more months of this). But THIS IS THE ONLY REASONABLE, RESPONSIBLE CHOICE, and I continue to look at any schools attempting in-person instruction with absolute incredulity.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:49 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


To me, if you are going to admit that colleges shouldn't have reopened dorms, then you have to assign to them at least some, if not the majority of the blame for any harm that befalls students and staff: financial, physical, or otherwise. By all means, remove positive students from campus. Suspend students that break rules. Of course you have to keep everyone safe. No shit.

But, in doing this, Universities and the public should understand that higher ed institutions that decided to reopen for in-person are ultimately responsible for the situation. Nobody forced these colleges and universities to open for in-person classes. There are plenty of colleges and universities in my area that decided to go virtual for the fall semester as soon as cases started to spike in the early summer. Nobody was forced into anything here - except maybe students who payed thousands of dollars in May and June expecting to study abroad and instead found themselves housed in a hotel and subject to mandatory bed checks like they were prisoners.

It's colleges that should be sued if vulnerable staff get sick due to exposure to irresponsible 18 year olds, not families of kids acting like kids.

To wit: Teens under 21 aren't even allowed to drink. There is a reason for that. Yet we are supposed to hold them to standards of behavior by which even the President and the House Speaker are unwilling to abide. If adults in leadership positions aren't willing to set an example by following rules, how are we supposed to expect the same of 18 year olds?
posted by eagles123 at 8:00 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really understand the people yelling at the kids here. Yes, they are doing dumb shit. But they're children, and children do dumb shit, and part of being an adult in a society is knowing that children will do dumb shit, and working to prevent the dumb shit they do from harming them and from harming others. You could have sat down in March and easily and accurately predicted this exact outcome (honestly, it should have been even easier in March, because it was already happening at schools that held out longer against shutting down). University administrators and politicians created this situation and they're the ones who should be held responsible for it.
posted by protocoach at 8:22 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


To wit: Teens under 21 aren't even allowed to drink. There is a reason for that. Yet we are supposed to hold them to standards of behavior by which even the President and the House Speaker are unwilling to abide. If adults in leadership positions aren't willing to set an example by following rules, how are we supposed to expect the same of 18 year olds?

This is whataboutism writ small. The majority of students manage to do the right thing. I have no trouble judging the relatively small number of students who choose to risk the health of the people around them so they can go to a party.

But that said, I do also blame the schools. They absolutely knew this would happen, especially once it was, in fact, happening at every school that tried to reopen. In my opinion, with the possible exception of the small number of schools with massive testing programs, any school that reopened in person has committed gross negligence.
posted by jedicus at 8:23 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


This is whataboutism writ small.

Don't even....
posted by eagles123 at 8:25 AM on September 14


"This is whataboutism writ small."

Don't even....


Trump paid someone to take his SATs. Melania Trump ripped off Michelle Obama's speech. So should we also excuse college students from cheating and plagiarism? After all, schools know that some students will cheat.

I have no problem holding schools responsible for the large-scale problem of outbreaks they absolutely knew would happen (including financial liability) while holding these adult students responsible for their own actions at an individual level.
posted by jedicus at 8:40 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Blaming people for doing the best they can when societal systems have failed is peak Americanism, really
posted by Automocar at 8:43 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


I should clarify that while I do think the students deserve some degree of blame for doing things like bar hopping the day they get a positive covid test and acting with little regard for the community, I hold the administration ultimately accountable. It boggles the mind that administrations who run a university and ostensibly have a lot of experience with college students thought that if we asked nicely college students would not gather in large groups to drink and make out. It is one more thing that makes you painfully aware of how disconnected many administrators are from the actual college experience and explains how universities have basically become investment banks that sort of do some educating on the side.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:45 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


I really wish that we could move away from a desire to "blame" people for acting like human beings. It's the same reason I don't hold animosity towards people doing things like eating inside restaurants and going to the gym. Most people are just trying their best and not really paying close attention to the epidemiology of COVID, because they have been taught that we have a government to make these sorts of collective decisions for us.

Colleges and universities are making decisions about whether or not to reopen for in-person classes for all sorts of reasons, but I believe that none of them are deciding to open cavalierly, and at any rate, it's the same reason local and state governments are allowing indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, etc. to reopen--because otherwise we would spiral into an economic depression which would cause untold suffering. Ultimately, the buck stops at the federal government, but we won't be able to hold them accountable for a couple more months.

And I just can't hold it against college students or their parents who just... believe the college or university that they've figured out a way to reopen safely. I don't know.
posted by Automocar at 9:05 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


(I really don't care about financial feasibility when proposing this, so that's a non-starter)

The reason you should care is that this proposal would tank a large number of HBCUs, fragile and valuable institutions.
posted by bq at 9:09 AM on September 14


Yeah, I don't really understand the people yelling at the kids here.

I agree that this outcome was drearily predictable, but I have to admit I've gotten tired of people treating college students as somehow blameless innocents who just can't help it, like they were beagles caught up in a scent. This shit is not a law of nature. It's not an unavoidable eternal truth that 18-22 year olds are just helpless against parties. There are lots of them that aren't licking doorknobs and having coughing contests, and I can see their intense frustration with the dinguses on my school's subreddit.

These are people, real actual moral agents, making moral choices, and they're choosing very badly. Yes, it's predictable that lots of them were going to make bad choices, just like it's predictable that lots of them are going to scream racist or homophobic slurs at people and that lots of them are at minimum going to engage in horrific casual misogyny. The predictability of bad, wrong, and immoral choices doesn't make them something other than bad, wrong, or immoral.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:21 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


That's quite the leap from some college students going to parties to them shouting group-based slurs? And "immoral"? Is it "immoral" if I go to the movies right now? JFC everyone is losing their minds.
posted by Automocar at 9:24 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


if schools don't think that bullies will delibarately cough at/lick their hands and wipe it on their victims they need to get their fucking heads out of the sand
posted by brujita at 9:25 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


I saw some Reddit thread about the Northeastern thing and the people who were most harshly castigating the penalized students were other Northeastern students. Thousands of them have been giving up most of the joys of college in order to get their degrees, using their sufficiently-well-developed forebrains daily in order to navigate these challenges and follow the very explicit rules the university has put in place, and they have very little sympathy for goof-offs knowingly ruining things for everyone. The tuition numbers are absurd, but that aside, the expectations of the university seem no harsher here than for all the other misdeeds that can get you kicked out; the only difference is that the more antisocial students haven't yet internalized that these activities can hurt others and get you into as much trouble as all the numerous other reckless behaviors that will get you kicked out.

And as others have said, this doesn't exculpate the school in any way either. Even if the students are totally in the wrong and totally culpable, if you undertake a social policy that requires zero malefactors, then the blowback from that is on you as well as the inevitable malefactors. I also don't think that students were made sufficiently aware just how prison-like and lame in-person school would be this semester, and the universities did nothing to disabuse them of this misapprehension ahead of time. Many people seem to have trouble with dual blame, but this seems like a fairly good example of both parties being in the wrong.
posted by chortly at 9:31 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Trump paid someone to take his SATs. Melania Trump ripped off Michelle Obama's speech. So should we also excuse college students from cheating and plagiarism? After all, schools know that some students will cheat.

I have no problem holding schools responsible for the large-scale problem of outbreaks they absolutely knew would happen (including financial liability) while holding these adult students responsible for their own actions at an individual level.


Yes, two wrongs don't make a right. I learned that in grade school, where I also learned forgiveness and the dangers of judging people.

But please, just say that instead of casting this in internet language people use to debate systemic racism and sexism. We are talking about 18 year olds. They'll pay for their crimes through thousands of dollars in debt and high powered lawyers employed by the university to humiliate them and paint them in as negative light as possible. It seems like it already worked in this thread, where 11 students of unknown age, gender, and ethnicity magically turned into Animal House in they eyes of many.

So, yes, they'll pay for their crimes, while the university administrators will keep their jobs and their financial and social standings. Given the above, I think the moral arc of the universe can continue to bend without the added weight of my judgement in this case. Your mileage may vary, of course.
posted by eagles123 at 9:32 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


I don't necessarily think that we should hold college students blameless for their actions, but I don't think dragging them out as an example is going to accomplish anything. Our national approach since day one to this thing seems to be 'do nothing about the big problem, point the finger at individuals and talk about how selfish they are.'

Maybe that is a cathartic exercise for some (I find the sniping back and forth to be totally exhausting, personally) but it doesn't get us any closer to designing policies that actually work when applied to real populations.
posted by geegollygosh at 9:49 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


But they're children, and children do dumb shit, and part of being an adult in a society is knowing that children will do dumb shit

Are a lot of people confused about how old college students are? I know from experience that we infantilize them, and are encouraged to do so ever-increasingly by the institutions that some of us work for, but most of them ARE NOT children. They are adults - young adults if it makes anyone feel better. But not children.

This is what I posted on FB last week:
I just listened to an hour-long briefing from the university president about the current Covid situation (rising number of cases among students) and I can't decide if this "leadership" is so incredibly, tragically stupid that they really thought college students would stop partying like the hormone-addled primates they are, or if all of this shock and dismay is a put-on.

My eventual decision was that they 100% knew how all this would go, and the shock and dismay is a put-on. Their financial models told them they needed to have in-person classes and open the dorms and Greek houses for this fall semester to bring in as much money as possible, and they pursued that, and anything else is CYA.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:54 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


Are a lot of people confused about how old college students are? I know from experience that we infantilize them, and are encouraged to do so ever-increasingly by the institutions that some of us work for, but most of them ARE NOT children. They are adults - young adults if it makes anyone feel better. But not children.

Anyone want to take a wild stab at how many Americans in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s have gathered in groups of 10+ people (family, friends, church communities, motorcycle rallies, etc) over the past few months? I would bet it's a pretty big percentage. So my issue is not that college students can't take responsibility for their actions. It's that we are taking very young adults, putting them into a college dorm together, and then somehow expecting them to do *better* than your average adult. It's just setting people up to fail.
posted by geegollygosh at 10:02 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


I actually agree with you. But they aren't children.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 10:08 AM on September 14


College students: don't forget some number of them are involved in fraternities and sororities, organizations dedicated to socializing. They are also organizations that prize their independence, and have a track record of sidestepping or just defying campus policies.

Which is one reason you see Greek houses as pandemic hotspots.
posted by doctornemo at 10:09 AM on September 14


> Are a lot of people confused about how old college students are? I know from experience that we infantilize them, and are encouraged to do so ever-increasingly by the institutions that some of us work for, but most of them ARE NOT children. They are adults - young adults if it makes anyone feel better. But not children.

Nope, no confusion - 18 to 22, give or take a bit on each end of the range. Are you perhaps confused about the now-several-decades-old research about when the human brain finishes developing, or what the last stages of that development entails?
posted by protocoach at 10:45 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


At some scale morality and blame turns into statistics. If I let a hundred people gather in one room what is the likelihood that all of them are well behaved and careful? If I go to extraordinary lengths maybe 100%, but if I just gather a hundred random people it's probably zero. Administrators should have known better.
posted by benzenedream at 10:52 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


The age of college students in the US: a majority are traditional-age, but the minority of adults are rising.

According to NCES folks under 25 are majorities in many sectors, including 4-year publics and privates. Adults are majorities in the for-profit space. And community colleges teach everybody.
posted by doctornemo at 11:34 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


That cost is yearly, not per semester.

Also a lot of the wealthier private schools will effectively discount tuition significantly for people with middle-class-or-below incomes, offer lots of academic scholarships etc. so it’s the “there because they’re rich” group that pays full full freight.

At least that’s my impression - I remember I got into a well-known rich-person school that also gives out a lot of academic scholarships to make sure everyone knows it’s not just a rich person school, and it would have been... well, still a bit more expensive than the public school I ended up attending.
posted by atoxyl at 2:38 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Colleges aside (am EXTREMELY grateful that my employer has generally leaned towards remote, and now it looks like we will have only a tiny number of people on campus for this whole academic year, also the politics and economics of opening or closing colleges is a goddamn nightmare)

...what the hell am I supposed to do about anti-mask weirdos at the grocery store? Not just the dicknosing, but the aggressively I DON'T HAVE TO ITS MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN people. I'm not big or buff enough to get aggro back, but it just leaves me shaking with terror and rage.
posted by epersonae at 3:23 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Please remember that not all students pay the published tuition. Colleges and universities offer a good number of students discounts of various kinds, including grants and scholarships.

In my experience, foreign students at US universities generally aren’t eligible for most scholarships and certainly not federal loans.
posted by bendy at 4:10 PM on September 14


Their idea is these Covid test strips operate just like pregnancy tests. You don't need to drive anywhere or send anything off to a lab or specialized equipment. It isn't as sensitive as a lot of tests out there but it is definitely sensitive enough to catch if you've become contagious.--eye of newt

This is the UIUC saliva test, operating under an FDA emergency use authorization, and using the campus population as a test population to see how the test performs. It's inexpensive (UIUC can run it for as little as $1.30/sample), it requires only spit, and does not require technicians to open/contact the test -- but results take at least five hours and do require a medical laboratory, as the test must be heated to 95*C. (They're processing them all in the veterinary laboratory at UIUC.)--Eyebrows McGee

Note that the test I was talking about costs about the same and gets results at home in less than 15 minutes (no heating to 95*C in a lab). There are two companies I can find developing this: E25Bio in the US and Mologic in UK. Professor Paul Davis, the chief scientist at Mologic, is co-inventor of Unilever's Clearblue, the very first fast home pregnancy test. Apparently they are doing trials of Mologic's test at Heathrow Airport.
posted by eye of newt at 7:28 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


In my experience, foreign students at US universities generally aren’t eligible for most scholarships and certainly not federal loans.

Right. Most students at most universities pay something pretty close to the published rate, as need-based grants are declining in favor of rank-based ones and colleges love to conflate grants which don't need to be paid back with things that do, like on-campus student work that pays minimum wage and federal and state loans. Other give small amounts of money, like for example paying the interest (or deferring the interest) of loans while enrolled.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:24 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


And "immoral"? Is it "immoral" if I go to the movies right now? JFC everyone is losing their minds.

Lest you forget people are losing a hell of a lot more than their minds.
posted by srboisvert at 4:38 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


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