Allow all students to have the choice to return to CUA

Allow all students to have the choice to return to CUA

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J R started this petition to The Catholic University of America and

Following the announcement made after the online-spring semester, rising sophomore, junior, and senior students of CUA looked forward to the in-person fall semester as detailed by President Garvey. The spring semester was a difficult and unexpected time for all college students, but an email sent out on May 7 gave us great hope.

The email began with, "I am happy to announce that we are planning to open the doors of The Catholic University of America for on-campus instruction and residential life this fall."

And ended with, "I am fully confident in our ability not only to return to campus, but also to build up Catholic University in a way that protects the safety of all."

Thankfully, CUA had the Roadmap 20/21 Team to assist with responding to the pandemic. Consistently, throughout the summer, the team seemed to have made necessary accommodations to welcome students back in the fall. Students even received their specific move-in dates and times. However, very recently, almost everything was scrapped, seemingly out of nowhere. Unfortunately, students weren't informed throughout the process and were completely taken aback by the decision to only allow the class of 2024 on campus.

The Roadmap 20/21 Team was able to create a safe environment for freshmen to be welcomed onto campus, but not any other class. The majority of sophomores reside in Opus Hall which would be a perfect place for social distancing thanks to the suites. Meanwhile, since junior and senior on-campus housing is optional, their presence on campus is minimal. Welcoming all students on campus was the plan until only a couple of days ago. This new announcement came with little explanation and absolutely no warning. Therefore, students are impacted financially as they bought dorm items and paid for non-refundable travel expenses. Not to mention the financial impact that this abrupt decision must have had on staff and the university as a whole. 

Allowing optional on-campus residency for all students would relieve the financial burden on the university. Even for remote learning, being on campus would provide a great benefit with resources such as the library, fellow students, and dormitory setting. As we've learned from the spring semester, learning from home is much more difficult than professors and administrators may realize. The home is not the ideal place for learning since issues with technology and the internet are very common alongside parents, siblings, and other loved ones unknowingly providing distractions and disruptions daily. 

Additionally, the presence of upperclassmen is necessary to guide freshmen throughout the new, overwhelming experience that college is. Upperclassmen help freshmen navigate through the unfamiliar campus, provide information into different majors for freshmen struggling with their own, and offer unconditional support when it comes to stressful college situations that they already have had experience with.

Also, the work-study program as well as other job opportunities on and around campus are especially needed during this time. Many students are unable to work due to living with older family members or family members with underlying health conditions. They were looking for the return to campus to provide a much-needed source of income during this pandemic without putting their family's health at risk. 

Unfortunately, since there are other universities that are opening up their campus, CUA students and their families are debating a transfer so that they may receive what they believed Catholic would provide come fall.

This is a tough time for everyone and this decision was no doubt a difficult one to make. It hurts that students were notified so late. Including students in this decision-making process that has an extreme impact on us would be incredibly thoughtful. Please consider optional housing for us to have a better learning environment and to help us keep our families safe. The university took considerate precautions to ensure a safe return for freshmen, but why can't everyone else have that option? Please reconsider. Thank you.

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