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The Little University That Could

by Anton Specht

It doesn’t come without great concern that Montclair State University is up and running in-person classes with students living on campus. Yet somehow, amidst all the controversy and universities across the nation both shutting down and sending students home, Montclair State seems to have a strong and viable plan in place to keep students safely on campus.

The fall 2020 semester is going to be anything but a traditional one, yet the administration is doing everything they can to make it somewhat normal. As a student in my last academic year living on campus, I can appreciate that effort wholeheartedly.

The school has optioned to take a mostly virtual route. From just conversing with my peers, it seems as though most students have no more than two in-person classes if any at all. I myself only have one and it’s not even completely traditional. It falls under the HawkMIX (HMX) category, which is a mix of in-person and online instruction.

Montclair State did not have to give us the opportunity to remain on campus and feel like real college students again. The university understands the majority of its students want to be here and want that college experience. They’ve done a tremendous job accommodating all of us through a myriad of ways.

For students who are more wary about the virus, the option to attend in-person classes virtually is offered. For the students who are more comfortable attending in-person classes, socially distanced seating has been implemented.

Next, we have Hawk Check, which all students must fill out 6-12 hours before coming to the main campus. Although other schools may have a similar form, Hawk Check feels especially unique and it has even gotten a story and appearance on News 12 New Jersey.

Additionally, there is an app Montclair State is using called the “RAVE Guardian App” which allows students to report any violation they see or hear of the university’s COVID-19 protocols. Likewise, each student living on campus is only allowed one guest per person in the living space. For now, these guests are limited to only other students living on campus.

My biggest concern is the people who currently aren’t and later won’t adhere to the school’s protocols. There were already eleven students sent home the weekend before classes started because they were gathered together without masks and proper social distancing. The fact that Montclair State suspended them immediately and left the rest of the campus untouched but with a stern warning was a sign of good faith for me.

We’ve seen what can happen in situations like these through examples like the University of North Carolina and the University of Notre Dame. Those schools, although much bigger in size, had cases blow up in a matter of days. For Montclair State to send any potential violators home within a day makes me feel like we are in good hands with our school.

Coming into the semester I was wary and wasn’t sure if living on campus was going to be the right move. Montclair State is making sure that those worries can be tucked away. Our university has ascended past many others, even within the state of New Jersey, making for the perfect underdog story.

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