One of the many questions surrounding the national lockdown in reaction to the novel coronavirus is whether colleges and universities should be open for business as usual in the fall. In a refreshingly declarative op-ed for The New York Times, the president of Brown University, Christina Paxson, says “the reopening of college and university campuses in the fall should be a national priority.”

She’s absolutely right. In fact, it should be a national priority to open up as much of American society to younger people as soon as possible. Not only are they far more likely to survive COVID-19, they are the ones ultimately bearing much of the cost of the lockdown in terms of missed opportunities to learn and work.

Paxson’s argument is at times explicitly self-interested, an observation that doesn’t undercut her case. “Most colleges and universities are tuition dependent,” she writes. “Remaining closed in the fall means losing as much as half of our revenue.” She adds that spending on higher education shovels $600 billion toward GDP and that colleges and universities are major, reliable employers in every town and city where they exist. She’s right, also, when she points out that however great it is to be able to conduct classes via Zoom and other videoconferencing services, such experiences are a far cry from the sort of intense learning experience students typically get from inhabiting traditional classrooms and moving around bustling campuses.