I am outraged at the University’s decision to mandate a two-day, in-person orientation, which was entirely comprised of content that could have been delivered online. Attendees convened in classrooms to watch videos covering information they had already received in high school: the benefits of a college education (they’ve enrolled, so presumably they’re convinced), and how to accept financial aid (the FAFSA was due last December). The third session covered bystander training. Again, this was a video presentation, followed by discussion that could easily have been replicated in an online environment. The content and means already exist to serve our students’ educational needs in a more responsible manner, so why do we tolerate this willful disregard?

The university claims to value the health and wellness of its campus and city community. How, in a time of global pandemic, does an ostensible beacon of learning and rational thought justify gambling with these lives? I am disappointed that this is the standard the University of Montana has chosen to set.