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An unprecedented distruption: What campus closure could mean for students

In the wake of the coronavirus being spread to what has been deemed to be pandemic levels, hundreds of schools across the country have closed down for the remainder of the academic semester. VSU is one of the latest victims of such closure, with the University System of Georgia deciding that all of their institutions will switch to online instruction.

As a part of the school shutting down, students will be forced to vacate their dorms, with refunds being issued for their room and meal plans. Special exceptions will be made to students who don’t have any other means of housing, but for the most part, campus will be deserted for the foreseeable future.

VSU President Richard Carvajal released a statement about USG’s announcement.

“This announcement contained information about classes moving into an online format. Students will receive detailed information regarding this change-including all steps VSU is taking to foster student success in online classwork-before instruction in most academic programs resumes on Monday, March 30, 2020,” he said.

“This announcement also discussed the closure of resident hall and that students are not allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from Valdosta State to do so. Students who live in university residence halls should delay their return until they receive specific instruction from VSU regarding a plan to return their belongings.”

At this point, students who have jobs on campus will still be compensated for their work, and VSU has confirmed they are starting the process of refunds for the cancelation of events such as study abroad.

USG Vice Chancellor of Communications Aaron Diamant stated that this shut down is in the best interests of the students.

“In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe,” Diamant said. “That we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times.”

Oh, how challenging times are about to be.

The USG already addressed the refunds about housing and meals, but other student fees such as online coursework will have to be determined with each school.

On VSU’s mobile app, the number one concern is compensation. Students are already demanding money for not completing the semester face-to-face.

“If they’re really planning on transferring to online classes for the rest of the semester, then will VSU students be given refunds for the remainder of the semester,” Candice Footman, sophomore psychology major, said.
“Aren’t online classes cheaper?”

A few students responded to the post doubting VSU’s ability to process the refunds, with one user stating that students will have to go “through hell and back trying to get refunds, if [they] get any at all”.

That’s not the only cause for alarm. The restricted access to campus means that students may have limited use of school resources such as the Odum Library and computer labs. For students who rely on them for classwork and don’t have the financial means to do it at home, this could spell trouble for their grade.

“I hope VSU has a plan to let students use their computers,” Emma Green, senior mass media major, said. “Programs like Microsoft Word and Adobe anything are not free, and we’re not trying to spend extra money that was covered in our technology fees for a plague that’s not even our fault. If we have to buy these programs for our home computers, that would be so unfair.”

There’s also concerns with an online format as well, since some classes will not be compatible with it. A’niecia DeFour, a senior art major, brought up the point that some classes by their design wouldn’t have an online alternative for it.

“I’m an art major. What are we expected to do? I have studio classes,” she said.

Another hot button issue is the subject of returning graduation accessories and the ceremony itself.

While Carvajal’s statement said that “no decision has been made regarding Spring Commencement”, the CNBC reports that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “canceling or postponing events with 50 or more attendees for the next eight weeks”.

Whatever plan VSU decides to develop for the incoming weeks, the impact it will have on students and instruction will be unparalleled.

To stay on top of update’s about VSU contingency plans for COVID-19 and to address any concerns about how it affects your education, consult these resources: www.valdosta.edu/health-advisory/faq.php, VSU Bursary: 229-333-5725, VSU Student Health Services: 229-219-3203 or 229-259-2083 (after hours) and the VSU President’s Office: 229-333-5952.

It is also recommended for students to keep in contact with their professors as lesson plans change.

Written by Malia Thomas, Entertainment Editor. Photo courtesy of Bethany Davis, Graphic Designer.

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