Letter to the Editor: March 9th

Dear Editor,

Are students selfish for desiring normalcy? If they were, would over 20,000 undergraduates students at Queen’s have accepted a sub-par education at sticker price despite knowing online schooling has disastrous impacts on physical and mental health?

Earlier in January, Queen’s announced they would plan an in-person homecoming event, but after backlash, cancelled the event. This cancellation was, in my opinion, premature and fueled almost entirely by optics and pandering to the Kingston community.

Why else would it be cancelled when at the time, Prime Minister Trudeau was adamant every Canadian who wants a vaccine would get one by September, a month before the planned homecoming? Was it perhaps due to the partisan fanfare perpetuated by conservatives clamoring that the September deadline would not be met?

In any case, Trudeau’s September deadline now looks rock solid as he beat his initial 6M dose target by the end of March, recently announcing that Canada will receive 8M doses by months end and that every adult in Ontario will have their first dose by June 20th. If a completed vaccination campaign isn’t going to bring about normalcy, or at the very least, end the prohibition on societal interaction, then what will?

Thanks to this premature decision, the Kingston community has forgone the much-needed economic boom that comes with Homecoming during this time when the small business community needs any stimulus it can get.

As of Q3 2020, due to the pandemic, over 5% of business surveyed where actively considering bankruptcy. Additionally, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) estimated in January that more than 200,000 small businesses could close their doors permanently in Canada, jeopardizing three million private sector jobs in the worst-case scenario.

While I concede I am missing the letters “MD” beside my name, as a microeconomist I am well-versed in the economics of healthcare, which is the study of the effectiveness, efficiency, and value of medical care and healthcare services and issues. It is not the study of money. Disregarding economists and other public policy experts would result in highly myopic policies that are driven by optics instead of science and data.

Microeconomists have identified the links between suicides, domestic violence, and substance abuse when financial success is impossible. While I could write a thesis on the dangers of widespread lockdowns, restrictions, and online learning after over a year, I will simply conclude this letter by asking everyone to not only consider the waning benefits of restrictions but also the mounting physical and mental health.

In conclusion, in the absence of a new COVID-19 variant that evades all vaccination efforts, an entirely normal 2021-2022 academic year should be on the table. University administrators, faculty, and students should not be called selfish for wanting to return to normal.

Hussein Dakroub
COMM ’18, BA’19, MA’20

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