Sheesh, for a university president, Father John Jennings did not do a lot of homework before his interview with Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC.
Father Jennings was being interviewed about the University of Notre Dame's decision to open up for fall semester classes, and he struggled and/or punted on every single question Mohyeldin asked him about that choice. After he'd summarized the range of decisions colleges and universities have announced around the nation, he came to Notre Dame, which has announced a condensed fall semester with no breaks, running from mid-August through just before Thanksgiving. Mohyeldin noted their plans to have "comprehensive testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, even social distancing and mask requirements," and asked how those will be enforced, particularly outside of class.
Jennings' answer was basically, "Lemme tell ya. We just made the announcement, and we have 3 months to come up with something, but we'll work it out. It'll be great." The interviewer was not exactly satisfied.
JENNINGS: We're confident we have the infrastructure. We're confident we have the spacing. We're confident we can get what we need. But moving a university is like moving a battleship. It's a complex organization. There are a lot of people involved. They have to work together. We're going to do that in the next few months. And so we had to set a target. We had to set a goal, which we did, and which we will be working on in the next few months. I'm confident we'll be ready when students come back.
Nope. Not good enough. Not, in fact, an answer at all. Mohyeldin knew it, and pressed him again, this time making an even. stronger argument for waiting until the spring semester for opening.
JENNINGS: Great question. Look, it depends on what you're trying to accomplish. At Notre Dame, the residential life of our students, the students interacting with one another involved in student organizations, involved in a myriad of relationships they have with one another, as well as with faculty is critical to the education we offer...(blah blah blah)...We want to educate these students in the best way and we think part of that is getting them here on campus, helping them experience residential life and the fullness of Notre Dame education.
He wants them to experience "the fullness" of residential life, student organizations, and the relationships they have with one another. Pardon me, but has he ever seen what it is he is talking about? Let's get.back to that enforcement of social distancing question, shall we? Has this dude ever been to a dorm?
Mohyeldin asks about plans for an eventual (inevitable, let's be real) outbreak, and Jennings produces an answer so uninformed you'd think he was employed by the Trump administration.
JENNINGS: Look, what we have are facilities for isolation, for quarantining. Students -- some students may get COVID. That may happen. But we have the facilities to treat them. As you well know, for young people, this is not a highly dangerous disease. If you're young, if you're healthy, if you get sick, sometimes you don't even show symptoms. But you can get back. ...(blah blah blah)...The answer to your question is, yes, we have response to whatever eventualities occur. We're pretty confident that we can get these students back, that it will be healthy and safe place and we can complete the semester.
OH, NO PROBLEM, YOUNGSTERS! YOU'RE ALL HEALTHY AND CAN COME BACK FROM IT NO PROBLEM THAT KAWASAKI-LIKE SYNDROME? PSHAW AND THOSE STROKES? TOUGHEN UP KIDS AND WHO CARES IF WHEN YOU DO GO HOME YOU GIVE IT TO GRAMMY AND GRAMPY AS A THANKSGIVING PRESENT OH MY GOD!
But wait! There's MORE! Jennings goes even further to put the finest of points on the exclamation mark ending the sentence, "Money is more important to us than the lives of your children and families!" Mohyeldin asked him if packing the stadium with tens of thousands of people to watch Notre Dame play football was off the table, at least, and guess what? IT ISN'T! IT ISN'T OFF THE TABLE, PEOPLE! What is Jennings calling that? It's a "challenge!"
Finally, Mohyeldin just straight up asked about the money. "If, in fact, the semester does not go as planned, is there any kind of tuition relief for those students who are not going to be coming back to campus?"
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Silly Ayman.
Jennings said, "We'll see. I just don't know the answer to that question because it's hypothetical."
"Hypothetical" is not going to calm parents worried about their students getting sick, pal.