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Wippman Co-authors Blame Shifting in The Hill


President David Wippman co-authored an opinion piece published by The Hill on Sept. 6 titled Blame Shifting. Written with Cornell Professor of American Studies Glenn Altschuler, the essay affirms that “administrators and students share responsibility for what happens in the fall, and the allocation of that responsibility depends on the circumstances.” 

 “Colleges should be held accountable for implementing a plan for in-person instruction that includes adequate testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine capacity; modifying classrooms, dining halls, and other facilities to permit physical distancing; and developing an exit strategy. Plans should also include working with students to foster a culture of mask-wearing and social distancing, but must account for the fact that some noncompliance is inevitable,” the pair writes. But at the same time, they continue, “Students should be held accountable for their actions, especially when they have been provided with the institutions’ expectations – and mandates – for appropriate behavior during the pandemic.”

They conclude their essay with this assumption, “Although the pandemic permits no guarantees, many institutions offering in-person learning this fall have followed the science and developed plans that are appropriate and reasonable for their specific situations and changing circumstances. It is reasonable, fair, and necessary to expect all individuals on college campuses to accept responsibility and the accountability that comes with it for their actions.”

The Hill published a second opinion piece by the pair on Sept. 9 titled Faced with few options, colleges must make their case. The authors emphasize that in this pandemic, "Decisions on reopening ... have been left largely to the colleges and universities themselves. The options are few, fraught with peril, and likely to diminish already plummeting public support for higher education in the United States." At this critical time, they write, "... colleges and universities must do more — a lot more — to make the case that they have never been more essential."

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