Updated: Sep 28
As a college student returning back to school amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, I have had a difficult transition. Most of my peers feel the same way. In my previous article (check it out here), I wrote about my experience returning to campus and how Covid has affected my senior year of college. I thought it would be interesting to get a different perspective on how Covid is making an impact on higher education, so I decided to speak with a UC Regent who happens to be my very own father. The University of California schools are governed by 18 regents who under the California Constitution have "full powers of organization and governance". My dad, Rich Leib, was appointed as a UC Regent in 2018 by Governor Brown. Today I called him to ask to ask him some questions and gain some insight on how the pandemic is affecting higher education.
Hi, dad! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. The first question I am going to ask you is, as a regent, how do you feel about schools opening up amidst Covid?
Thanks for having me! Well, In my opinion, each college campus is completely different and it really depends on the specific location and community. Some schools are located in places where there’s high positivity rates in the greater community while others have far less cases. Overall, it has to be done with great care, and there has to be a testing protocol, and if a re-opening is done it has to be in very limited terms.
How did the UC’s make the decision to be online?
For the UC schools, each individual school had to make their own decision based off their unique circumstances. In the end, they all had to be online due to the fact that the overall numbers of Covid were just too high. This decision wasn’t made by the Regents, it was made by the University of California in coordination with the academic senate. It was definitely a tough one though.
How do you think higher education is impacted from online education?
Well, there are certainly some ways an online education can be very productive and good but it definitely does have certain limitations. What going online has taught us is that some classes can very easily be instructed via Zoom without losing any value. This means that in the future we may potentially not need to spend so much money on large buildings and lecture halls and allocate recourses else where. That being said, education in its entirety can not be done online and Zoom is never meant to replace education. There are so many subjects and classes that are meant to be taught in classrooms with peers and team members which is why this whole thing is so unfortunate.
What would be your advice to students with online class to succeed?
I think online school makes everything more challenging and I am sure it is much harder to focus. I also can’t imagine what college would be like without the social aspect since that was my favorite part of my time at UCSB when I was a student. But, I would emphasize that it is crucial to try your best to bear through it. It is important to remember that in time we will be back to normal classes depending on how things go. Treat online classes the same way you would to regular classes and put in maximum effort. If you were the kind of person that would go to office hours when classes were in person, make sure to do the same on Zoom! Take advantage of your professors free time and schedule zoom meetings with them. I am sure they would love to talk to you and appreciate the effort.
What would be your advice to students returning to a college campus with in person classes?
Remember that it is extremely important to always social distance, wear a mask, and avoid large gatherings. I also think it is important to note that excessive drinking reduces your abilities to practice social distancing. Even though it is rare, there are instances where young healthy kids are hospitalized which is why it is so important to take this seriously.
When do you think classes will start up again and what is a good plan of action for when they do?
Hmm..well that is very hard to tell. I do think that it will be a slow process and very gradual. I am not a scientist but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started up again for spring semester. I think everything in person will be optional and accustomed to what people are comfortable with.
Thank you so much for speaking with me!
It was a pleasure!