The University of Maine’s recent decision to close the university to students and transition to remote learning for the remainder of the semester was premature, irresponsible, and will have a massive cascading impact on the local economy. The impact of students going home and staying home is going to be like a financial bomb going off for Orono-based restaurants, shops, hair salons, gas stations, and apartment complexes, all of which rely on that revenue to operate. Some of these businesses don’t have sufficient cash reserves to survive if their customer base disappears overnight, and will end up going out of business — especially if this remote learning policy continues into the fall semester.

I wonder if UMaine considered the potential long-term impact to enrollment if students suddenly are exposed to how effective remote learning is versus paying tuition fees (that increase faster than inflation) to physically attend the university. They may be creating a new trend here where some kids start doing the math on student loan re-payment and decide to learn accounting from an online college, or self-teaching from books/podcasts and then taking a CPA exam, etc.

The impact of UMaine’s decision will be felt by local businesses and families for months, and possibly years to come.


Matthew Acheson


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