Huntsville in the COVID-19 crisis must feel like the man that eats the most deep-fried pizza in America. To win in such a competitive field is definitely a terrible accomplishment, must have gotten you some prize and is sure to have terrible consequences for your health, but you did achieve it.
What I am referring to is the fact that our little, humble and quaint town—with a massive university in it—ended up as No. 1 in average daily cases in comparison to population size and No. 18 in cumulative cases, according to The New York Times.
This has led to the question that has been on at least my mind and I assume many others: why are we here?
There must be something to gain from this semi-off campus learning style. In-person classes happen once per week at most, and all have some sort of opt-out for those rightfully concerned with getting sick. One would have to assume the teaching must be better than the online classes of last spring.
Most professors are somewhat familiar with the digital wilderness at this point, though juggling between the five students in class and the 20 on Zoom seems to lead to the classic dilemma of spilt attention.
Students, being one myself, also have a tendency to want to interact with people once here. The huge number of students interacting, eating in the Lowman Student Center without masks (unless they have an open mouth one that defeats the purpose) and generally being forgetful and unsanitary beings might have something to do with off campus cases.
While I too have pity for the poor dance majors without a studio or chemistry majors without a lab, it would be better to find creative workarounds rather than endanger themselves and others.
For students that need housing at Sam Houston State University because they live so far away from a lab or computer room, perhaps a few properly spaced dorms open might justify the risk. Having two students to a room and just sort of trusting that visitors will wear masks is the height of harmful stupidity.
The most infuriating things here for anyone concerned with public health are the open extracurricular buildings and in-person events that are still happening. There was a live comedy event in person the first week of school. Also, the Recreational Sports Center is somehow open after already needing deep cleaning for a COVID-19 case.
All of the social distancing protocols seem to be defeated by bringing a large group of people to campus. If this soft reopening is not for the benefit of students or professors, it stands to reason that someone is benefiting from bringing us back here.
At the beginning of this article I asked why are we here. It seems that the answer must be clear: money.
SHSU’s administrators have hedged their bets this semester that the university can keep absurd tuition costs as comfortable as they want in a half dead school. Tuition is due at the beginning and when, not if, this pandemic gets out of control in Huntsville, the reply will be NO REFUNDS.