Editorial: Students are tired of the uncertainty surrounding their return to campus

Students have had enough of the school’s inconsistency regarding our in-person return to campus. Graphic Carl Bindman

The Omicron variant has spiked the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the last few weeks. Once again, students are asked to stay home and do our courses online. 

On Jan. 3, 2021, there were 2,165 new cases reported in Quebec. On the same date this year, there were 15,293–an increase of more than 13,000 by comparison alone. However, by January 2021, online education had been in place for almost a year. 

This academic year, Concordia students were able to enjoy a fall semester on campus after two years of online learning, but after this drastic change, we are once again back to an online model. 

After two years of living through a pandemic, students have gotten used to all kinds of environments; whether online or in person, we have persisted. But this semester has brought forth yet another challenge for us: everything is up in the air. Any authority figures, like professors, school administration, and government officials, say they aren’t sure what will happen in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, many students agree: this isn’t a good enough response. 

On Jan. 12, Quebec Premier François Legault confirmed on Facebook that all schools, including universities, will be allowed to return to in-person education on Jan. 17. In addition to this, he is allowing CEGEPs and universities a margin of time to adapt.

As of Jan. 12, Concordia had yet to say anything on the topic. The return to campus date remained the same: Jan. 20. However, on Jan. 13, Concordia gave notice of the new date for our return to campus: Feb. 3. 

How reliable is this date? During the first week of school, many professors said different things in their classes, but a lot of them weren’t confident that there would be a return to campus on Jan. 20. However, in their communication to the student body on Jan. 10, President Graham Carr and Concordia’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Anne Whitelaw, said they would “aim to give faculty, staff and students a week’s notice” if they were to change anything. 

It is outrageous that the student body is being kept in the dark about what our semester will look like, especially when we compare Concordia with other educational institutions. How are students expected to prepare for projects and exams when they don’t know where they will be in two weeks? Preparing for an online semester and preparing for an in-person semester is extremely different, but preparing for both and neither at once is almost impossible.

The instability Concordia’s administration is creating right now can cause major repercussions for a student’s ability to have a fruitful semester. Last semester, we expressed our frustration at Concordia’s lack of empathy for our situation when they didn’t implement the pass/fail option. Not even one week into the new semester, we are being neglected again.