CSUB changes to prevent COVID-19 spread leaves students with concerns

Earlier today, CSU Bakersfield has announced the decision to cancel several public events, including Runner Nights and the concert featuring rapper T-Pain which had been scheduled for March 28, and multiple events for the Kegley Institute of Ethics. This follows President Lynnette Zelezny’s March 12 announcement that classes will begin transitioning to online platforms for the remainder of the spring term.
“Runner Nights has been postponed until further notice. Anyone who purchased tickets will be refunded,” CSUB Programming wrote on Twitter.
The director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics, Michael Burroughs, sent out an email today to the student body explaining their decision to postpone KIE’s events until the fall 2020 semester.
“After consulting with our KIE Board Chair, CSUB Interim Provost Vernon Harper, and with the core KIE team, we feel it is best and most responsible to postpone all remaining KIE events scheduled for spring 2020,” Burroughs wrote.
CSU Bakersfield’s decision to transition to online-only classes for the remainder of the spring term and cancel crowded events to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has caused concern among the student body. With classes being online-only beginning March 23, the cancellation and postponement of spring tournaments by both the NCAA and the WAC as well as CSUB spring athletics, the postponement of Runner Nights, Kegley Institute of Ethics events being cancelled and/or postponed, and CSUB restaurant and foodservices policy changes, students have been left to wonder what is next.
Due to COVID-19’s highly contagious qualities, CSUB’s leaders have determined that maintaining face-to-face classes could increase the risk of infection as the virus gets closer to Kern County. In announcing the switch to online classes, Zelezny noted that her decision came after considering both state and student perspectives.
“It was not really until this week when the guidelines changed with the governor’s announcement that we really needed to come back, and also see that the anxiety [among students] about the unknown was really increasing,” said Zelezny.
While there are no confirmed cases in Kern County at this time, CSUB, in concurrence with the Kern County Department of Public Health, is taking this step with the hope that it will help delay the spread of COVID-19 in the local community until a vaccine is available. As of this time, students’ primary focus remains on completing their courses and the possibility of getting to participate in the spring graduation ceremony.
“It’s my last semester, so this is not how I wanted it to pan out. I understand that it is best to take precaution, however, my primary concern right now is graduation. I will be devastated if I do not get to walk in a ceremony,” senior Macayla Fowler, business major, writes in a message to The Runner via Instagram.
Some CSUB students have expressed that the transition will create a hardship for them, potentially having a negative impact on their education.
“Many students, including myself, struggle with online courses. I don’t even have Wi-Fi,” senior Savannah Mosqueda, a business administration major, wrote in an Instagram message to The Runner.
The CSUB administration is currently planning to keep the campus open, allowing students to utilize the library and other services. Other universities across the country have intended to keep student services open, many colleges have felt forced to close their campuses entirely as COVID-19 begins to make its way across the United States. If the campus is forced to close and transition entirely online, some students may find themselves without the proper supplies, such as Wi-Fi and access to the school’s computers, to complete the spring term.
Candice Livingston, senior interdisciplinary studies major, is primarily concerned that the online classes will be able to function properly.
“I’m just hoping the schools help my non-tech savvy professors ease into the change,” Livingston wrote in a message to The Runner on Instagram.
At this time, CSUB has not decided to close any student services. ASI elections are still taking place, with the deadlines remaining the same.
“We have gotten lots of questions about ASI Elections and wanted to assure you that ASI Elections are still happening. Applications are due on Tuesday, March 17 at 11 a.m.,” read an email to the student body from the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Likewise, the theatre department announced today via email that “The Who’s Tommy” will still be on stage in the Dore Theater this weekend. The play is scheduled to run Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. with a Sunday, March 15 matinee at 2 p.m.
“In light of the COVID-19 and current CSU and CSUB communication, there will be a limit on attendance to a maximum of 150 people,” theatre program coordinator Mandy Rees explained in the mass email.
CSUB is scheduled to remain open at this time, allowing students access to school resources. Campus residents can remain in the dorms until the end of the spring term, and dining services will be maintained.
“Courses will transition to alternative delivery methods, and students’ pursuit of their academic goals will not be disrupted,” Zelezny promises in the COVID-19: Transition Plan memorandum.