Indiana News

Purdue President Mitch Daniels defends decision to reopen campus in fall

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – Purdue University President Mitch Daniels defended the decision to resume in-person classes for the fall semester in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

In the article, Daniels said 45,000 young people, which is the biggest student population Purdue has ever had, said they want to be on campus this fall. 

Daniels goes on to say “to tell them, ‘Sorry, we are too incompetent or too fearful to figure out how to protect your elders, so you have to disrupt your education,’ would be a gross disservice to them and a default of our responsibility.”

Daniels writes he understands how dangerous the virus is for certain populations but if you’re running a university the science tells a different story. 

He said assuming the United States eventually reaches 150,000 total fatalities, COVID-19 as a risk to the young will rank way below accidents, cancer, heart disease and suicide. 

According to Daniels, the past eight weeks have been spent planning how things will be run from now on. 

The goal is to make campus less dense. 

At least one-third of staff will be required to work remotely. Seven hundred classrooms and labs and 9,500 dorms will be re-designed based on social distancing guidelines. 

Classes will also have lower occupancy limits and large enrollment courses will be offered online as well as in-person. 

Daniels said students will have to take more responsibility for their own actions. 

Each will receive a kit with a face mask, a thermometer and a pledge asking them to commit to a semester of inconvenience. 

Daniels said this is not primarily for the student’s protection but for those who teach and serve them. 

Come fall the plan is for Purdue to be a quiet place of learning. All social events will be canceled.

Daniels said two-thirds of the more than 700 colleges surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education plan to re-open in the fall.

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