Resilience and Resistance: The Community College in a Pandemic, by Brian Murphy, CSHE 6.21 (April 2021)


All universities and colleges in the United States were deeply and immediately affected by the sudden appearance of Covid-19. Two-year public community colleges suffered the same fate as their university neighbors: the immediate needs were to close up operations, shift instruction to online and distance modalities and keep students engaged and focused when all around them collapsed. But the community colleges suffered under constraints not shared by many of their university neighbors: limited discretionary, little or no funding from endowments to fall back on and students whose limited economic resources and constrained family circumstances made any transitions much more difficult and stress-inducing. But it would be an error to look at the experience of U.S. community colleges and their students during the pandemic only through the lens of their constraints or their limited resources. This is instead a story of resilience and engagement, and the remarkable ability of poor and first-generation students to resist despair and isolation. More critically, it is a story of what happens when equity drives college practice and commitments to participation and democratic governance matter.

Publication date: 
April 27, 2021
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)