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In dark days of coronavirus, a little kindness can restore students’ faith

Column by LIZ WILLEN | The Hechinger Report

NEW YORK – When news came that coronavirus concerns would close South Carolina’s Benedict College for the semester, Jayla Berry soon found herself heading home to Detroit with her ticket fully paid for and her transportation arranged.

“They helped us load up and even arranged for someone to take me to the airport,” said Berry, a sophomore environmental engineering major who attends the historically black college on a full scholarship. “The guy who picked me up and took me to the bus had no sleep because he’d been helping all the students get home. Even the [college] president called to check in on us, and I am forever grateful. They didn’t have to do that.”

The acts of kindness shown to Benedict College students came courtesy of its board of trustees, who offered to cover the travel costs home for every student who needed it, even to places as far as away as Brazil and Budapest. The school is one of a number of colleges and universities that are standing out for their humane approaches to the coronavirus. These institutions are helping students find cost-free ways to leave campus, keeping dorms open for those who don’t have other options or identifying ways to enable less-wired students who can’t access online learning to still finish out the semester.

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