- As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, colleges and universities are canceling in-person classes in an effort to curb transmission.
- Social media posts, however, reveal that some students are continuing to gather in large groups.
- One such gathering at the University of Dayton ended in chaos when police were called to force students to disperse.
- Not everyone is celebrating the massive changes at universities nationwide; campus closures have serious financial and academic implications for students.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
As more and more cases of the novel coronavirus are confirmed in the United States, colleges and universities are implementing stringent safety measures. According to a spreadsheet created by Georgetown University scholar Bryan Alexander, over 200 universities are canceling or postponing in-person classes.
New York, which has been in a declared state of emergency since March 7, has been hit particularly hard by the virus; as of Thursday morning, over 225 people had tested positive in New York State, with 62 confirmed cases in New York City. Accordingly, New York colleges are implementing strict guidelines to curb the spread of the illness.
On Monday, Fordham University suspended face-to-face instruction on all of its New York campuses and urged students to return home. After a "community member" was exposed to the virus, Columbia University canceled its Monday and Tuesday classes and implemented remote instruction on Wednesday. New York University also switched over to online instruction and urged its community to avoid nonessential in-person gatherings. CUNY schools are also beginning to switch over to remote classes.
However, not all college students have been taking warnings seriously, and social media posts suggest they're continuing to gather in large groups.
On March 10, TikTok user @Rileylynnm posted a video of how some Fordham University students were responding to the school's emergency protocol (which, according to the post, included a campus-wide shutdown).
If this doesn’t go viral something is wrong w TikTok ##fyp ##corona ##newyork ##darty
The clip, set to "Corona Time" by playboierik21, shows students lounging on the grass and enjoying New York's spring weather.
"Proud alumni," one commenter wrote, "This is exactly what I hoped y'all would do."
"My future school!!!" another wrote.
To date, the video has received nearly 88,000 likes.
Another Fordham student, TikTok user @chriskitkat captured Fordham students' outdoor festivities with a post captioned "should've been in calc."
should’ve been in calc ##coronavirus ##fordham ##thebronx ##nyc ##fyp
The video, which has received 64,000 likes, shows students sitting on blankets in the grass and drinking from plastic cups.
"This was the one part my tour guide didn't show me," one commenter quipped.
"Corona bringing us all together," another said.
Student gatherings also continued at Columbia University, where some students appeared equally unconcerned with the school's recent safety protocol.
TikTok user @codycrying posted a video highlighting some students' response to new regulations.
we rly said 🤪 ##PlayWithLife ##makeuphacks ##nyc ##college ##newyork ##coronavirus ##coronatime
The clip begins with shots of university-wide emails — then it cuts to footage of students gathering on the grass and soaking up the sun on the university steps (often referred to as "Low Beach").
"If college students gonna die they gonna die havin a good time and I RESPECT that," one viewer commented.
"I'm going to Columbia in the fall and when I saw this I just laughed and shook my head because I expected nothing less," another wrote.
The post has received nearly 78,000 likes to date.
Large student gatherings amid campus closures, it seems, were not limited to New York.
Crowds of University of Dayton students gathered on campus after the news broke that student housing would close on Wednesday due to coronavirus safety measures, the university's student-run newspaper reported.
A video posted to the Flyer News Twitter account shows students swarming Lowes Street on the university's campus. A later tweet from the publication clarified that students were not protesting; they were treating the gathering as "a potential last party of the semester."
However, things escalated when police were dispatched in an effort to get the crowd of over 1,000 students to disperse.
In order to clear the street, Flyer News reported, officers began shooting what appeared to be "non-lethal weapons" at assembled students.
In an official statement given to Flyer News, the University stated that the "disorderly crowd" threw objects at police and ignored orders to disperse. Police launched "pepper balls," which were unsuccessful in moving students from the street. Ultimately, around 2:15 AM students vacated the street after another verbal warning.
Students and commenters alike were enraged by the university and police response.
"The university has gone full Karen on us. Hate to see it," one commenter wrote in response to the footage posted online.
Not all students, however, are treating campus closures as a reason to celebrate.
People have taken to Twitter to communicate their concerns about what campus closures will mean for low-income students who rely on student housing and work-study programs.
"Who's helping low income students move out/pay for transportation?" Twitter user @Abdoullag wrote after SUNY campuses announced closures. "Who's finding their livelihoods because they survive off of work-study/college jobs?"
"As a resident tutor at @Harvard, I'm asking (BEGGING) the University to support students who can't afford extended summer storage, will immediately add to at-home food costs, have no quiet space in which to study, or lack WiFi for online class access. We CANNOT fail them in this," doctoral student @LeahEGose posted in response to Harvard University's campus closure.
Students also have concerns about the academic implications amid the chaos.
A law student at New York University, who asked that her name be withheld for fear of academic retaliation, told Insider that the school's new safety measures disrupt a necessary classroom experience for law students.
"The whole model of education is the Socratic method, so in-person learning is crucial," she explained. "Doing things remotely will almost certainly impact our quality of education."
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