UVA dad to UVA students (and other college students)

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To: UVA students
From: UVA dad
cc: all other 2020-21 residential college students
re: Fall 2020 on-campus

I'm a UVA dad (more on that at the end) and I'm writing to UVA returning students regarding the questionnaire you received from the President inquiring about your preferences for less-than full on-campus return in the fall.

By asking for your opinion on a few less-than-full-on-campus options, the admin is obviously "greasing the skids" for something other than the campus experience you have known in the past and for which you are paying for. They want to be able to report back to you that a "majority" or "plurality" of students "chose option X" when they implement some version of a restricted, less-than experience for you this fall.

I hope you see what is happening. It's a high-stakes game of "group management." Ultimately, they want to ensure "buy in" from returning students when something like this is implemented:

In "Scenario 3," they take your money with the hope of normalcy returning "as conditions allow." What are the "conditions"? For example, the "conditions" that precipitated the shutdown in the first place this spring never materialized. Not even close (at least in Virginia). What are the new "conditions"? Does anyone even ask?  So when the threat of the dreaded "second wave" begins to emerge in late September, under Scenario 3 you will just stay online. And because this is a virus that likely gets more viral in cold weather, the hopes of returning to normal for the 20-21 school year will shrink with each passing day.

I hope you told them on every possible question that your preference is for a full on-campus experience and you won't re-enroll or won't pay FULL TUITION for something less.

Why?

Because the COVID data makes it clear that on-campus college life can and should proceed as close to normal as possible in the fall.

If you don't know this, then IT'S TIME TO DO SOME HOMEWORK! This is the largest cultural event probably in your lifetimes. You should be digging into the data yourself instead of relying on the FearMedia and politicians and drug companies who either have an agenda or lack the courage to take the correct actions and change course. As you dig below the surface, here are a few facts you may discover:

  1. This is NOT a pandemic of the general population. Statistically, almost ALL victims have had co-morbidities -- 99% in Italy; 97-98% here -- and are elderly. The elderly are OVERWHELMINGLY more at risk. As of late April, those over 75 comprised 56.24% of COVID deaths (and just 6.71% of population). Average age at death is high 70s.
  2. Fatality rates for those under 25 are so low that you probably face a greater danger driving or flying back to Charlottesville than you do from COVID. As of late April, the under 25 population comprised .12% of  COVID deaths (20 in all) while under 25s comprise 31.74% of the population 
  3. Those of student-age have LESS of a mortality risk from COVID-19 than from the seasonal flu -- and they didn't shut down school for the flu. As an Australian official said, ""COVID-19 is not the flu. Far fewer children are affected by COVID-19."
  4. A large percentage of COVID cases are asymptomatic. You may already have had it. It may sweep through UVA this fall and while many will get sick with symptoms, many more likely will have no symptoms
  5. Young people are less likely to transmit COVID to the older people than vice-versa. (Two studies: Australia, France)

We're all being told to "follow the science." Well, the science says young people are less at risk from COVID than the flu. So let's get back on campus.

What about those with health concerns? What about older professors and administrators? Those are all issues that can be addressed within the context of a mostly normal on-campus experience. Dorm life? Large classes? Cheering shoulder-to-shoulder at football games? If we could do those things with the flu, we can do those things with COVID. 

Based on what we know know from the COVID data, yesterday's email preparing you for more online classes in the fall should have ignited a REVOLT among the UVA returning students. With today's social media tools, President Ryan should have had such strong feedback that his "committee" will have decided that they must find a way to restore the on-campus experience.

How about a few thousand students marching on campus this week demanding a return to campus education? Sure, there would be much gnashing of teeth at the administration level, but they would get the message.

At this point, you may think I'm crazy. Well, if I'm wrong on the data, prove me wrong. Show me. But if I'm correct, then the only question is... where is your fight? 

For goodness sakes, y'all are COLLEGE STUDENTS! ARE YOU NOT OUTRAGED THAT THE SHUTDOWN WAS SOLD ON A FEAR OF 2 MILLION U.S. DEATHS and there is no accountability? Do you not know that the shutdown was FOR THE PURPOSE OF KEEPING OUR HOSPITALS FROM BEING OVERLOADED and that has been accomplished yet now they are moving the goal posts (as in Animal Farm) and want to radically change the way we live to "stop COVID"? That "stay home" has been sold as a moral imperative when most of the population is at less risk from COVID than the flu?Are you just going to accept this, or are you going to demand that the university "follow the science" and allow the college campuses to help lead the nation back to normalcy?

The free-spirited, even rebellious heart of the college student has long been one of the checks and balances on power. We need today's college-aged students to demonstrate the courage and resolve to help lead our nation back to normalcy. Will you answer the call?

Sincerely,

Steve Elliott, UVA dad

(About my dad status: All four of my daughters have attended UVA. Two have graduated, one graduates this year and the youngest is scheduled to be a third year in Charlottesville in the fall. I love the school and love the experience that the school has provided for my children.)

Some data:


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  • Ed Gehringer
    commented 2020-05-24 00:18:59 -0400
    Now is the time to get more data from schools in the Southern Hemisphere so we can make decisions with confidence in the fall.