And so here we are, 232 days since the start of the fall semester, and we are still in Phase C of Eastern University’s COVID-19 phases. I remember distinctly being told, at the beginning of last semester, that hopefully by next semester or earlier, we would be out of Phase C. Well as is now clear, this individual was wrong. We are still very much in Phase C.
I want to make it clear from the beginning of this article that I do have a bias. I am a commuter, so Phase C matters a lot more to me than it does to the average Eastern student. I do not have much to criticize concerning Eastern University’s approach to COVID-19. For the most part, I would say it was handled much better than other schools in the area. But if there is one thing I would complain about, it is that the Phase system is still in place and does not show any sign of leaving.
Before I write anything else, it would probably be best to give a brief explanation of what I call “the Phase system”, especially for those of you who do not even know what the word “Phase” means to Eastern students.
The Phase system was implemented by Eastern University to fight the spread of COVID-19 within the dorms. According to Eastern’s COVID-19 guidance page, the phase system consists of four phases labeled A-D, with A being the strictest and D the least. We are currently in Phase C, which according to the guidelines on Eastern’s website means, “Residential students may visit residential students in other residence halls. Commuters and non-Eastern students are not permitted in residence halls. Student rooms may not exceed one visitor per person assigned to the room at a given time. Roommates should discuss expectations for visitors.”
First of all, I have a sneaky suspicion these guidelines are not being followed. But putting my suspicions aside, these guidelines have become pointless. I am no expert in protecting people from COVID-19, but I do know that this is the only COVID-19 measure that Eastern has kept in place.
Furthermore, all residential students can go wherever they want and hang out with whoever they want. At this point, the only students who must suffer because of this measure are commuters, and of course, residents who want to have friends in their dorm.
One reason I feel safe arguing against the Phase system is because COVID-19 cases have become minimal to non-existent in our area. The seven-day case average (April 18) for Delaware County is 66 cases with 0 deaths resulting from these cases.
I do understand why this is the only Covid restriction Eastern has kept. Quite frankly, it is practical for the university to keep it in place. Not allowing visitors and commuters in dorms prevents certain security issues. Visitors most likely pose a lawsuit risk to the university. I cannot verify these are the reasons that we still have the phase system, but because no clear explanation has been given, I can only begin to take guesses.
As a commuter, I would sincerely appreciate it if Eastern lifted the Phase system. I understand the dilemma they are placed in, but for consistency’s sake and the sake of its students, I call upon the university to get rid of this measure starting next semester. I understand that there may be a reason for these measures which I have overlooked. If this is the case, I would appreciate it if the university was transparent and explained exactly why the Phase system is still being used.
Sources: eastern.edu, usafacts.org