OPINION: SMU Please Give Up on In-Person Classes

SMU needs to relinquish its false hope of resuming in-person classes this semester. The more SMU delays this inevitable decision, the more students are hurt.

Since SMU reluctantly announced on March 12 that classes would move online, chaos and confusion has reigned among its student body. The most confusing part of the announcement? Its expectation that “normal classroom instruction [is] to resume April 6.”

Currently, the CDC advises suspending events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, while the White House cautions against gatherings of more than 10 people. On campus, SMU would gather its 11,824 person student body, and the vast majority of classes contain more than 10 students.

Based on this information, we can safely assume that in-person classes are inadvisable until after SMU’s scheduled finals in early May. Additionally, studies have shown that for closures to be effective, schools must remain closed until the virus has run its course. This makes sense: Even if the disease miraculously disappears in Dallas, resuming in-person classes would reassemble thousands of students who have traveled across a virus-ridden continent – a cosmically stupid idea.

SMU’s hope to resume classes on April 6 is not only delusional, but also costly to its students.

International students in particular need SMU to decide now. The price of an international flight ticket climbs everyday, and travel restrictions are becoming increasingly stringent. These students, many of whom are from Asia, need to book their flights home as soon as possible. To make matters more uncertain, SMU International Students and Scholars Services has failed to issue any guidelines.

These flight concerns also apply to domestic students, especially those living out-of-state. While the university strings its students along, everyone is caught in a state of decisive limbo, unsure of whether to stay or go. Every hour that the school delays the suspension of in-person classes is an immense monetary and time cost to its students.

Other local and national leaders have made the difficult but necessary decisions to protect their communities. Mayor Eric Johnson announced on Monday that all Dallas bars, clubs, dine-in restaurants, gyms, and venues would be closed for at least a week, and barred all community gatherings of 50 or more people. The Dallas ISD has also closed all schools indefinitely while still providing education and meal services.

We don’t know what is motivating SMU’s current stubborness. But, SMU, for your students’ sake, please just cut to the chase and suspend in-person classes until the end of the semester.

Kevin Yuanhao Dou is a free-press student activist and writer for the Daily Campus. He is a first-year at SMU studying journalism and political science.

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