The COVID-19 pandemic has caused universities to modify their approach on how to reopen their schools for in-person learning. Many have implemented protocols and guidelines that are understandable, while other institutions have given mandates that have caused some students' eyebrows to be raised out of caution for themselves.
Specifically, many private institutions have mandated that their students must be vaccinated for in-person lessons. Universities such as Morehouse, Spellman, Emory, and Clark Atlanta are just a few of the institutions within the state of Georgia that require their students to be vaccinated, and it seems there is no leeway for exemption unless medical reasons prohibit vaccination. Considering this, some students of Savannah State were asked what they wish to see on their campus if the university had the means to become a private institution.
Sophomore, Aaliyah Davis, serves as a Community Assistant in the Tiger Place residential facility. The facility was upgraded a few years ago with the intention to house first-year students, but due to the recent closures of another campus housing facility, Tiger Place now has a mixture of first-year students and upperclassmen. Davis was asked what she would like to see improvement if the university went private.
She said, “Housing would be better. I work for housing here (Savannah State), so I just know if we were private housing would be better”. She continued, “And we probably would have better maintenance or overall better craftsmen, whatever you call them, that would be able to finish projects on time. Some buildings in the (University) Commons are probably still not done, or maybe some residents came and saw their flooring lifting….so yeah, housing would be better”.
Davis was aware that if that was the case, then it would mean housing rates would be much more expensive than current prices. She said, “I know if that was to happen though, housing would be more expensive. That is the overall difference between private and public though, right…you pay for what you get”.
Graduating senior, Barry Dorsey was also asked to express his opinion on what he would like to see if Savannah State were to ever go private. His response was to be expected from a stem major, as he is currently enrolled in the computer science program.
Dorsey said, “If we were to ever go private, I know for sure our computer science program would receive more notoriety and funding”. He further stated that “Majority of the time whenever someone that’s not familiar with the (science) field, they automatically think about a school like MIT…and it’s because of their funding…that’s how they’re able to have this much attention and certain facilities that we may not have here (Savannah State).
Seeing that Dorsey is a science and technology major, he was then asked what his reaction would be if Savannah State was private and mandated vaccinations. “I wouldn’t care”, he said. “I am already vaccinated, nobody told or forced me to get vaccinated, so if we (Savannah State) were private and that was one of the rules for us to come back, it wouldn’t affect me in any way”.
Dorsey’s opinion on the school’s mandating vaccination was not met with the same casual response when third-year student, Dekori Robinson was also asked what he would like to see if the university was ever able to go private. He said, “I know for sure if the school was private, we would have more funding to do whatever we wanted…school-related at least”. He continued, “Because I remembered when they built that extra parking lot, and everyone (student body) was asking why…come to realize it was something state had to agree to in order to receive funding to the new science building. And I was like…alright, that was a dumb condition when there is other stuff that needs remodeling or fixing”.
Robinson further stated, “I came here and Bostic was closed and the other dorm (Bowen-Smith Hall), why haven’t they found something to do with those buildings as yet”? Robinson was then asked if he would be keen on attending a school that mandated vaccinations. He said, “That’s one of the downsides to private schools though, not saying vaccinations are bad because I mean…I had to be vaccinated with certain shots before they even accepted me here, so I am not against it. But private schools can really do whatever they want because they have no government affiliation”.
It seems that overall, many of our students are aware of what comes with being a private school. Some may even describe it as a blessing or curse; top-notch facilities and services are guaranteed, but of course at a hefty cost for some students to experience. Including the implementation of certain rules that may cause a divide with the student body. Savannah State being a public school is the best situation for many of its students, current, and potential, right now.