Northwestern University president apologizes and reduces tuition after shifting 1st- and 2nd-year students to remote learning: ‘I understand that anger’

Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune
·1 min read

Facing backlash from angry first- and second-year students who recently learned they can’t study at Northwestern University’s campus this fall, school President Morton Schapiro repeatedly apologized during an online presentation Tuesday and tried to provide more details about how the last-minute decision was made.

During the one-hour session, Schapiro said he was “absolutely convinced” that NU could reopen its residence halls to all students but began to worry late last week as COVID-19 cases rose in suburban Cook County and the school readjusted its capacity to quarantine students on campus based on estimates from the state.

“I apologize for people who are so angry, and I understand that anger as a parent and as an educator,” Schapiro said. “In retrospect, I probably should have decided earlier in the week.”

The online event came after NU delivered the unpopular news to undergraduate inboxes late Friday afternoon, explaining that only third- and fourth-year students would be permitted to return to campus, take in-person classes and live in residence halls. The decision, communicated just nine days before move-in was scheduled to start, clashed with the school’s summer efforts to accommodate everyone who wanted to come back.