At a student forum hosted by the Associated Students of ASU on Monday, President Michael Crow answered questions about ASU’s COVID-19 policies, the student housing crisis and new expansion opportunities.
During the forum at the Polytechnic campus, Crow pointed to ASU’s vaccination campaign and pledged to follow both President Joe Biden, who declared the pandemic is over, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in determining how ASU will proceed. Crow claimed that COVID-19 was now endemic but committed to monitoring potential mutations.
However, COVID-19 is far from over on campus. As of Sept. 12, there were 91 positive cases among students and faculty across all campuses. Despite the presence of COVID-19 cases on campus, Crow confirmed that students and faculty would only be required to isolate if they test positive, and isolation will not be required for those exposed to someone who tests positive.
Students questioned the ongoing housing crisis, which left nearly 450 students living in hotel rooms this semester.
Carlos Ramirez, a freshman studying engineering at the Polytechnic campus, attended the forum and after hearing Crow's response, proposed his own solutions to this crisis.
“Build more housing, spread students out and move some degrees to other campuses,” Ramirez said.
Other students, like Undergraduate Student Government Poly Director of Outreach Mudit Lal, attributed the crisis to ASU’s admissions strategy.
“The problem was with the unexpected increase in admissions … as a member of USG, we are aware of ASU building new dorms," said Lal, a freshman studying engineering.
On the other hand, Ramirez disagreed. He thinks expansion of the University is good and growth should be encouraged.
Students also expressed their concerns about student loans and jobs on campus. Crow praised Biden for his recently announced student loan forgiveness program, which forgives up to $10,000 in debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 or up to $20,000 for married couples or heads of households earning less than $250,000.
Crow highlighted the benefit of an education from ASU, claiming that the return on investment is 7% on the low end and on average 14% for all programs.
“I haven’t even seen the stock market return 7% in years,” Crow said.
Crow also took pride in the employment rate of ASU students, claiming that approximately 15,000 students have jobs.
Despite this statistic, Lal said the University could still improve its career services by providing better assistance to international students applying for jobs.
“In India, we have one resume and one cover letter to apply for everything. It’s a completely different process in the States … it’s difficult because it’s an entirely new system to adapt to," Lal said.
Shaurya Manglik, director of marketing at USG Poly, agreed with Lal that the University could be doing more to support students looking for jobs.
“I think it’s a good effort, but I think we could also improve on that … a lot of people on this campus want jobs but can’t get any," said Manglik, a freshman studying engineering.
Both Lal and Manglik also expressed frustration with ASU’s few paid opportunities with internships and research.
“If you didn’t have to pay for my time, if you don’t value my time in the first place, why interview? Why not just let me work?” Lal said.
Finally, Crow responded to students complaining about parking fees.
Parking passes on the Tempe campus range from $280 for Lot 59 to a staggering $780 for spots closer to or on campus. Passes also range from $210 to $780 on the Downtown Phoenix campus and from $210 to $480 on both the West and Polytechnic campuses.
Crow explained that the money the university gets from these passes goes directly to other student transportation benefits, the key among which is access to free campus shuttles.
To students uncomfortable with paying for others’ services, Crow replied: “grow up.”
The next ASASU student forum with Crow will be on Nov. 29 at the Downtown campus.
Edited by Reagan Priest, Logan Stanley and Kristen Apolline Castillo.