No, we ought not be celebrating what’s happening at UNC

The “I told you so” crowd is eager to be heard. Their glee is almost uncontrollable.

And they are wrong.

After just one week of classes, the University of North Carolina has abandoned on-ground instruction. A sharp rise in coronavirus cases is to blame.

According to the Raleigh News and Observer, top UNC officials are admitting the obvious: There was potential for this move all along.

“Since launching the Roadmap for Fall 2020, we have emphasized that if we were faced with the need to change plans — take an off-ramp — we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly,” Guskiewicz and Blouin said. “We have made it in consultation with state and local health officials, Carolina’s infectious disease experts, and the UNC System.”

Multiple tenured faculty at UNC made the case a couple of weeks ago that students should remain home.

Today’s news is not to be celebrated. “I told you this would happen” and similar replies refute what the people saying them know: The college experience is much better when faculty and students can engage in meaningful in-class, inside-the-lab and inside-the-studio moments. 

That opportunity is lost, likely for the entirety of the fall term, at UNC.

Of course, the blame game will follow. Either the bumbling administrators made plans absolutely devoid of reality or college students failed, again, to show any maturity.

Baloney, to both attempts at blame.

On-ground instruction at colleges big and small will not happen inside some bubble. Absent local, state and national leaders advocating for real policies and plans to contain coronavirus, we who are being responsible citizens will suffer.

So, too, will college administrators who ought to be applauded for the many layers of effort to make their campuses as safe as possible. So, too, will college students who want the most normal of college experiences.

No, today’s news out of Chapel Hill ought to remind the “I told you so” crowd to demand real leadership from elected officials.

They are the ones gutting public education.

They are the ones eager to see colleges run like businesses.

They are the ones failing us when they deny the true dangers of coronavirus.

Let’s hope those who wish to criticize UNC officials and students choose instead to remember where the real blame should be directed.

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