Trump launches scathing attack on Harvard University for keeping classes online

'They ought to be ashamed of themselves,' president says of university officials

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday 07 July 2020 22:40
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Donald Trump laid into Harvard University officials for their decision to take all instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year online, calling it "ridiculous" and the "easy way out".

"They ought to be ashamed of themselves," the president said on Tuesday at a White House event on opening schools in the fall even though coronavirus cases are again surging across the country.

"All course instruction (undergraduate and graduate) for the 2020-21 academic year will be delivered online," officials from the Ivy League school said in a Monday statement. "Students will learn remotely, whether or not they live on campus."

The Massachusetts-based college does intend to bring up to 40 per cent of its undergraduates back to campus in the fall, including all first-year students.

"This will enable first-year students to benefit from a supported transition to college-level academic work and to begin to build their Harvard relationships with faculty and peers," the officials said. "Both online and dorm-based programmes will be in place to meet these needs. Over the last few weeks, there has been frequent communication with our first-year students about their transition to Harvard and this will continue as we approach the start of the academic year."

The university is making some changes. Students will live in single-bedroom dorms, but still have to share bathrooms

"The dorms and Houses are undergoing physical modifications to support our public health goals," according to the school. "These include enhanced cleaning schedules, personal safety training and protective equipment for custodians, security guards, and House staff, improved air handling and filtration in shared spaces, hand sanitiser and wipe stations, and signage outlining our public health community guidelines."

But that was not good enough for Mr Trump, who often rails against those widely considered the elite of the United States. "We're the elite," he often tells his supporters at campaign rallies.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday he said: "Economically, we're doing well. We want to do well with the education.

"I see where Harvard announced that they're closing for the season or for the year. I think it's ridiculous. I think it's an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, you want to know the truth. But I noticed that today, and probably others are doing that. That's called the easy way out.

"I don't know if people are helping them. I guess their endowment is plenty big; they don't have a problem with that. But that's not what we want to do.

"Because it's very important – as so many of the parents and instructors said today, it's so important that the children – at this age, especially – that they're together, they're together on campus. And that's what we're striving for, and we're going to be very strong on that. We're going to be very, very powerful on that view. We want our schools open in the fall."

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