As we roll into week eight of the semester, students are finally getting used to their routines and living as they choose. Most students are enjoying their semester, (or barely surviving depending on who you ask), but the majority of students will tell you one thing; they want consistency. Specifically, consistency surrounding the universities COVID policies.
When the semester started, freedom of choice and student’s ability to take responsibility for themselves was relatively easy. However, after the first round of covid testing, things took a turn for the worse. With only three positive cases after testing the entire residential community, the university double downed on their COVID policies. At the start of the semester, students were able to go home on the weekends. Not any more.
If a residential student spends their time overnight off of campus, the student is required to provide a negative test before returning. Unfortunately, this is only applicable in some cases.
For example, on the weekend of fall free days, the majority of students decided to go home. Most students I talked to said they were worried about finding a place to get a negative test before returning to campus. A few days before the break started, the university sent an email saying that students preparing to leave for fall free days do not need to provide a negative test upon return.
With the release of this message, most students were excited. However, this is quite confusing since that means the majority of students went home and then the university did not require a negative test. The testing provided by the university would not take place for another two weeks after the break. According to the CDC, if you come in contact with someone who tested positive, and you are not vaccinated, you should observe a 10 day quarantine. That 10 day quarantine passed on Friday, Oct. 15. If keeping our case numbers low is such a high priority of the university, wouldn’t it make more sense to test the week after fall break in the middle of the quarantine period, not after it has passed?
In addition, there are some other inconsistencies that are making students feel at a loss. Homecoming weekend, Oct. 8 – 10, the university had many outside visitors. It was super exciting to see new and old faces around campus. However, multiple students reported seeing siblings and parents of current students and alumni in the dining hall.
The dining hall is considered a high risk zone, so much so, the university enforces a mask policy inside the dining commons. Why are we allowing outside visitors in such a high risk area? Don’t we need to keep the residential population safe?
Lastly, the university is allowing admissions to bring prospective students into the residence halls for dorm tours. However, if I am correct, we are currently in phase-C, which means outside visitors are not allowed inside the residence halls. But yet, the university will parade the prospective students inside the residence halls just to try and get a higher enrollment number.
The universities covid policies provide some freedom of choice, but ultimately, they are lacking consistency. With this lack, students are feeling discouraged and disheartened. The semester is stressful on its own, sometimes going home will make a bad week turn for the better. Since we have had such low positivity rates, and if the trend continues for the next round of testing, Eastern should relax the rules because the student body has shown that we are responsible enough to make our decisions, and that we are able to keep ourselves safe.