What do colleges owe their most vulnerable students?
This fall, most discussion of college students has revolved around the risks that they pose to others: the unchecked transmission at illicit parties, the campus outbreaks that could sow death in college towns. To date, the Times reports that at least a hundred and seventy-eight thousand coronavirus cases have been linked to institutions of higher education. Reopened campuses present obvious dangers, but shuttered dorms and dining halls create a more acute crisis for a smaller number of students, depriving them of stable housing, regular meals, and the broadband they need to attend virtual classes.
“It was my hope that colleges would do two things this fall,” Anthony Abraham Jack, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who studies low-income students, said. “First, go one hundred per cent remote. And, second, invite back any undergraduates who cannot be full students if they are away from campus.” This group, Jack said, would include victims of domestic abuse and L.G.B.T.Q. students whose parents are hostile to their identities, as well as anyone facing food or housing insecurity.