We are saddened by the senseless, tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans in these recent weeks. What we witnessed in the past few weeks speak to an injustice that we as a nation cannot deny. Racism, in all of its forms, is unacceptable. We must honestly address the issues that underlie these societal divisions in order to make real, systemic change.
A few hours ago, the CSU system announced that the majority of their classes will be held predominately online in the fall. As a system, CSU comprises 23 individual institutions and 500,000 students. It is one of the largest systems in the United States and, as a bellwether, will surely drive additional institutions to contemplate similar actions for the fall.
This domino is the latest to fall as the rules relative to higher education – and our lives – are rewritten due to COVID-19. Basic activities such as recruiting prospective students by touring the campus have been upended and we now face the very real prospect of classes being held online through the end of 2020.
Prior to the Internet and eCommerce capabilities, college students had limited choices when it came to obtaining their textbooks: they either bought textbooks and course materials from the campus bookstore or they went without, the latter a somewhat unlikely choice given the relative affordability of textbooks in the past.
Fast forward to more recent history and, while most students can still buy from the campus bookstore, off-campus retailers like Amazon, eBay, and other platforms have captured more and more textbook sales by offering students lower prices and more convenient shopping options.
In the coming weeks, millions of students will be returning to college and university campuses. The air will be full of excitement as existing students settle in for a new year and new students look forward to a new chapter. Dorms will fill up with boxes and suitcases and the quad will fill with tables representing campus activities and student organizations. Campus bookstores will offer extended hours as students search for their books and materials. These students will spend hundreds of dollars, some over a thousand, this semester alone. Increasingly, this spend will not occur inside the bookstore.