Do students criticize the university unjustly?

Illustration by Monique | The Signal

As August 2020 comes and goes, so does the beginning of the fall semester. Students are unpacking their d… oh, wait, it’s 2020. As many students prepare for the fall semester at home, the university is catching some heat for its response to the global pandemic.

With PAWS being unreliable, an unclear plan and confused staff members, Georgia State has not been handling the coronavirus very well. Since March, the university has played seemingly everything by ear when it comes to students and classes. 

Georgia State didn’t alert students that the university will be extending spring break until the day before it was supposed to end, leaving students scrambling to make arrangements. 

Then, housing gave students only a few days to pack their belongings and leave the dorms. This last minute decision making led to a frantic dash to downtown Atlanta as students both tried to pack up their lives and protect themselves.

Now it’s August, and Georgia State isn’t doing much better in some students’ eyes. Trust me when I say that students are making sure the university hears their displeasure.

A gander at Georgia State’s Instagram reveals several comments, such as, “How the hell are we suppose[d] to maintain 6 [feet] apart with thousands of students on campus at any given time on those sidewalks” by user bwyatt54 and “this is NOT the state way, and the lack of communication to your fellow [P]anthers is blatantly disrespectful” by user rtm.228.

While these are very valid concerns, there is a reality that students aren’t realizing: Georgia State is kind of stuck right now. COVID-19 has proven online classes don’t work all that well. Right now, the university has to balance student safety and student success.

Georgia State’s staff is working from home, but there is a plan to bring them back to campus. That means terrible connection and limited system access, so think about that the next time you complain about the hold time for financial aid.

In the midst of this chaos trying to adapt and overcome comes yet another blow: The state just slashed the university budget, and the private company that runs the University Housing buildings is threatening legal action. The university is starting the fall semester with 50,000+ students in a very complicated and complex, ever-changing situation.

Again, I completely and wholeheartedly understand your frustrations. It took me the entire summer semester to get into contact with my advisor, so I know financial aid is terrible. That being said, you have to understand that this isn’t the same world from a year ago, or even seven months ago. This is a very different time, with very different challenges.

If you guys are concerned about going to campus, for the few that still have to, contact your professor. Ask why the class hasn’t been moved to online only and if you are genuinely expected to go to campus. I doubt any professor is going to deny you the right to protect your health. As for the wait times, remember they are working from home, some with crying babies and terrible internet.

Give the university a break; it’s doing the best it can.