Students should have the choice to stay virtual or return in person this fall

Malcolm Van Halen, Reporter

While things in California begin to open back up, some students are eager to ditch Zoom meetings and get back to in-person classes and events.

Many students have said they want to be able to attend classes and events in person, especially for those who have never actually been able to be on campus yet. However, some also hope they will have the option to choose to remain remote when the time comes to reopen.

Although California Lutheran University is planning to return to in-person instruction in the fall, students should at least be given the option to choose if they want to continue virtual learning.

In an opinion poll about returning to campus conducted by The Echo, some students, faculty and staff said they had concerns over their own health issues or passing the virus along to family members.

Another factor that may affect the decision to continue remote learning is how it has allowed students to save money on housing and commuting costs, positively impacting their student debt. Students in these situations should have the option to return to campus instead of being required.

For other students, Zoom learning has continued one semester too long.

Ariana Gamble, sophomore and business administration major, said in-person learning is her preference. In an email interview, Gamble said she lost motivation to go to class and other school-related activities because everything was online.

It’s been much much harder for me. I prefer to be in person so much more,” Gamble said. “One of the biggest reasons I came to Cal Lu  was to have the opportunity to be in small and personal classes and I’m completely missing that.”

Although Gamble hopes to be able to return to campus, she acknowledged that not everyone may not want to return to campus for a number of reasons.

“I don’t think it’s fair to make it mandatory to come back yet just with all the uncertainties still up in the air,” Gamble said. “It’s hard to ask people to make arrangements without knowing the future.”

She also said she hopes more students will consider coming back to campus, so she could be amongst her peers in class.

Neha Agarwal, first-year global studies major, said she also hopes to be able to return to campus soon and feels like she missed out on having a real college experience her first year.

“I did not have the typical freshman experience and I do feel that was unfortunately taken away from me,” Agarwal said in an email interview. “I would say remote learning is a lot harder because it’s incredibly easy to get distracted… it’s a lot harder to have balance and structure because it feels like all of the days blur into each other.”

Agarwal said she prefers in-person learning because there are certain things that cannot be experienced in the same way over Zoom.

“There are some things that cannot be replicated online such as spontaneous class discussions, meeting up with friends, and having a sense of normalcy,” Agarwal said.

Although Agarwal said she is anxious to be able to attend class on campus and feels much safer now that more people are vaccinated, she also recognized that there may be some instances where students should be able to have the choice to continue remote learning.

“I think people should have the option to do whatever works best for them,” Agarwal said. “If they do not have the option of being vaccinated and are suffering from a disease that puts them at high risk, then they should have the option of staying at home.”

While there are a number of students who wish to return to campus, there are also students that hope to have the ability to remain remote or at least have some sort of a hybrid option.

With many uncertainties around the virus, some worry about coming back to campus, especially if they live with elderly or immuno-compromised family members, so it would be nice if students could make the decision to remain remote if they have more legitimate concerns.