Universities are facing an impossible situation. On one hand, public universities' budgets have been cut so deeply that they must ensure their enrollment is as close to maximum capacity as possible in order to survive.
But on the other hand, we're in the middle of a raging pandemic that endangers all of the people - faculty, staff, and students - that universities depend on. As positivity rates for COVID-19 continue to rise in young adults - and we see COVID-19 outbreaks in real time in college towns - these institutions face a massive dilemma.
Further complicating things, state-funded schools have already been cut to the bone from recession-era budget cuts. Now, institutions face the possibility of being further gutted because of coronavirus budget shortfalls.
That's why we're asking for your help: Will you contact Congress and demand they help universities by passing emergency stimulus immediately?
Truthfully, there's no good answer as to how universities should handle this school year. Universities must decide for themselves whether they can establish some safe, in-person learning or whether all classes will need to be remote. What we do know is that these decisions should be based on ensuring the safest and most productive experience for teachers, students, and staff, not on the financial pressure of surviving the pandemic. There's only one body that can help universities to survive and freely choose what is best for their students, staff, and faculty: the federal government.
The CARES Act and other COVID-19-related emergency measures have fallen short of helping institutions of higher education. Trickle-downers have instead prioritized giveaways to massive corporations and have stupidly opposed any aid in a blatant attack on higher education.
The result is a disaster waiting to happen as schools begin their fall semesters. To survive, many schools may be reopening without appropriate safeguards in place or without the resources to adapt to online learning. Others will disappear entirely as many students decide to defer or forgo college.
We can't afford to lose the jobs, knowledge, and opportunities these universities provide - and we can't afford to let students, staff, and faculty suffer because schools are underfunded. Much of the rest of the world is more or less back to normal - and American kids will basically lose a year of learning. It doesn't have to be this way.
Your congresspeople must understand that the question isn't "how do we afford to give universities the funding they need?" Instead, it's "how do we afford not to?" That's why we need your help to demand that Congress pass emergency funding for colleges and universities. Will you contact your elected officials and demand action now?