All 17 students in the School of Hospitality Administration are boycotting classes until administrators determine a better way to teach critical classes like Bed Making for Beginners and Advanced Non-Confrontational Eye-Contact online.
While the pandemic has been difficult for all students, those studying Hospitality have been uniquely impacted this past year, said Mary Ott (SHA ’22), who organized the strike.
“Sure, online classes are fine for learning things like how to make unintrusive small talk,” Ott said. “But how am I supposed to learn how to properly push a room service cart or organize little brochures on my desk over Zoom?”
Strikers argue that the school’s new set of modified classes – which include courses like “Wine-Watching” and “Public Health 101: How to Close a Hotel” – aren’t living up to the academic rigor they expected when they signed up to study banquet halls and motels.
The strike has garnered support from a handful of faculty — like Professor Holly Dayin, who said virtual learning puts an “unscalable front desk between teacher and student.”
She noted the loss of class outings, once a foundation of the Hospitality curriculum.
“For a lot of our students, the basic idea of a ‘hotel’ is all new,” Dayin said. “So we usually take them out on the town for a hands-on experience: chatting with the staff, testing out the cushy lobby chairs and toying with the spinny doors.”
Dayin added that she’s seen decreasing enrollment in her classes for at least the past decade and said concerns surrounding the pandemic are largely to blame.
SHA administrators declined to issue a formal comment on the strike, but Dean Carl Ritzerton spoke to The Bunion “off the record.”
“Frankly, these kids should be happy they’re getting exposed to reduced opportunity as things shift digital,” Ritzerton said. “Airbnb is going to put us all out of work in the next five years anyway. Consider it like an internship for that.”