Montclair State Students Feel Pressured to Take In-Person Classes


Published February 24, 2021
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The Montclarion
A lecture hall in the Feliciano School of Business is separated by clear barriers and social distancing. Kyra Maffia | The Montclarion

Montclair State University’s administration is requiring students taking hybrid classes to come to campus this semester, despite ongoing safety concerns due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the previous fall semester, students taking hybrid courses had the choice to stay home if they did not feel comfortable going to campus. However, this spring semester, new rules have been implemented.

Charles Fatolico, a sophomore television and digital media (TVDM) major, expressed his concerns about in-person classes.

“I don’t understand why they got rid of the option,” Fatolico said. “I understand it is not ideal to have students on the computer all the time, but at the same time there is still a pandemic.”

Charles Fatolico expresses his concerns about hybrid courses. Jennifer Portorreal | The Montclarion

Charles Fatolico expresses his concerns about hybrid courses.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Portorreal

Due to the number of cases reported in New Jersey during the past few weeks, some students are concerned about their safety and being on campus.

Conan Ramirez, a junior TVDM major, also expressed how he is feeling about in-person classes during the pandemic.

“I really don’t feel comfortable at all,” Ramirez said, “I think that due to the pandemic and the rising number of people with COVID-19 in this time period, [there] shouldn’t be any in-person classes.”

The administration says that they are not forcing students to take hybrid courses and they have been clear with their instructions and policies.

Montclair State senior media relations specialist, Andrew Mees spoke about instructions the university has put in place for students, stating clear information regarding hybrid classes.

“The university is not forcing students to take in-person classes,” Mees said. “We have been clear with instructors and students that [have] hybrid classes require both in-person and online attendance.”

Some students believe that before making any decisions, the university should ask for everyone’s opinions.

“It’s a lack of respect for the student body, not asking us whether we approved of them opening the university and having in-person classes,” Ramirez said. “We are a population of people that are very close together and one person gets sick, you could get a whole building sick.”

Conan Ramirez expresses how he feels about the new adjustments made by the university. Photo Courtesy of Conan Ramirez

Conan Ramirez expresses how he feels about the new adjustments made by the university. Photo courtesy of Conan Ramirez

Montclair State says that they make decisions regarding the pandemic and students’ safety by following health experts’ guidance and science. Due to this they unfortunately cannot ask the campus community for their opinions.

“The administration cares very much about our students and wants them to be successful,” Mees said. “However, our COVID-19 related decisions must be driven by science and the guidance of health experts.”

Many students think that it is unfair that some people have to complete their major requirements and those courses are only being offered hybrid. With this, the uncertainty of being on campus forces them to push those courses back or take them in person because they have no other choice.

Vielka Rodriguez, a junior business administration major, expressed her concerns in having to complete core classes for her major.

“I’m currently taking a hybrid class because even though I wasn’t planning to be on campus, I had no other option,” Rodriguez said. “In order to complete my major requirements, I need to take this course now, which is why I couldn’t adjust my schedule.”

Lecture halls in University Hall have stickers on the desks, directing students where to sit. Kyra Maffia | The Montclarion

Lecture halls in University Hall have stickers on the desks, directing students where to sit.
Kyra Maffia | The Montclarion

Many students believe they should still have the choice to stay home as they did in the fall semester, even if the courses are hybrid.

Chloe Swift, a TVDM major, expressed how she feels as a college student attending college courses during the pandemic.

“Everyone should be able to make the decision of staying home or take in-person classes,” Swift said. “Montclair [State] has a really broad group of students attending and you have kids from [all] over the state and we have people from different age groups.”

As of recently the university has not sent any new adjustments regarding course methods, but as the COVID-19 cases evolve, so will the administration’s protocols.

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