Last week, Frankly Speaking had the Stanford community weigh in on the question: What should Stanford do about fall quarter? We received a number of thoughtful replies, and three of them are published below.
Some context: In a recent email, Stanford stated that it will make a decision about the fall in June. Harvard announced that it will definitely be open in the fall — either in an online or in-person capacity. Provost Persis Drell has said “absolutely nothing is off the table,” when it comes to Stanford’s decisions on fall and beyond. Potential options include a fully online fall, an otherwise modified fall quarter or a delay of the academic year.
Philip Eykamp ’20:
I favor starting normally on-campus in autumn if possible but adopting the approach of a full-service summer quarter if an on-campus autumn is not possible. As a graduating senior, this decision doesn’t directly affect me, but having just my final quarter online has been difficult enough, and I don’t believe that I’m learning nearly as much as I should: If I were continuing as a student, I wouldn’t be able to stomach another quarter of it. Additionally, it’s not fair to incoming freshmen to force them to start online, and it will probably impede their learning substantially, not to mention depriving them of a normal first quarter to meet friends and start exploring research and internships: Autumn quarter was a critical opportunity for me to become a bit more independent, and I think having the first quarter online would reduce the personal growth of freshman year. Finally, if the first quarter is online again, many students would probably choose to take autumn quarter off even if they didn’t take this quarter off. That would wreak yet more financial havoc on the University, as it would have to provide all the overhead of running courses with many fewer students paying in. All of that said, if there is any way, even with cumbersome social distancing measures, to have autumn quarter on campus, I would support that solution, as it is the least disruptive to student life. Otherwise, Stanford should delay until winter and have a full-service summer quarter.
Archana Verma ’21:
I would absolutely not want fall to be cancelled and the year to be shifted win-spr-sum. Our summers end so late and all the grad schools I’m applying to are semester schools so I’d have to finish the end of my undergrad a) remotely and b) while starting graduate school. Disastrous. Online school is not ideal but it’s better than shifting the whole year.
Justin Cortez ’21:
Personally, I would rather we do a gradual phasing in on undergraduates back on campus depending on the situation while still keeping classes remotely. For those of us where being at home would be untenable and not conducive to a good learning environment, we need the safety and resources of campus such as Wi-Fi and steady access to food and water in order to thrive effectively. Additionally, pushing everything back a quarter would be detrimental to our professional development, especially if we were one of the only schools to implement such a program.
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