Friday, March 13, 2020

Why Universities Are Kicking Their Undergraduate Students Out Of Campus Housing

Universities are concerned about the physical and mental health of their students, staff, and faculty.  In response to the coronavirus, Covid-19, many schools have switched undergraduate instruction from on-campus classrooms to off-campus online learning.  They have also told students not to return to campus until notified.

Undergraduate students live in dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, and other group facilities, sharing bathrooms, dining, and other common rooms.  One infected student could spread the virus to other campus housing residents.  Universities are not equipped to quarantine and take care of hundreds of potentially infected students on campus.

A second concern has received less attention.  My first academic appointment was in 1968 at the University of Rochester.  There were very few elderly faculties as it was standard practice for professors to retire at age 65.

That began to change in 1967.  Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions of privileges of employment.  The federal act applies to employers with a minimum of 20 employees or more.  The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) applies to employers with a minimum of five employees.

Covid-19 arose in Wuhan, China.  The vast majority of cases, 87%, were in people ages 30 to 79.  The China Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization mission to China reported data for all 72,324 of those diagnosed with Covid-19 as of February 11.  Only 8.1% were in their 20's, 1.2% were teens, and 0.9% were 9 or younger.

Overall, 2.3% of confirmed cases died.  The mortality rate was 1.3% for those in their 50"s, 0.4% in their 40's, and 0.2% for those aged 10-39.  There were 549 cases among children and teens, with only one fatality. The fatality rate was 8% for those in their 70's and 14.8% in people 80 and over.

Back to campus.  Fast forward to 2020.  Tenure coupled with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act has resulted in a large number of faculty aged 65-85.  Undergraduates are encouraged to engage their professors.  Infected undergrads thus pose a serious risk to older faculty.

PS.  Covid-19, for the moment, has ended the rape crisis on campus.

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