The new measures implemented in the “Slow the Spread” Student Directive hope to decrease the recent spike in COVID-19 numbers to avoid a possible shutdown for the rest of the semester, but were the things found in the email really anything substantial?
According to the email, the main restrictions placed on students for the next two weeks mostly involve limiting travel away from campus, disallowing students from gathering in residence halls and further restricting seating in dining halls. Additionally, Wildcards will also no longer work when trying to gain access to residence halls that students do not live in.
However, a large portion of the email deals with topics that have already been spoken about before. There is no need to include an entire section on mask-wearing and social distancing when this has been something constantly urged to the student body over the past several months. Instead of including this, more recent restrictions should have been included that would further control the spread instead of the generic warnings we have heard countless times.
The new restrictions place the responsibility of maintaining COVID-19 mainly on the students, while in the same email, it blames them for rise in cases. This is counterintuitive in fighting the spread, because how can these restrictions be followed if many of the COVID-19 guidelines already implemented were not being followed by students in the first place?
There are many obvious ways to violate these restrictions that many have done so already. People can simply open the door for students trying to enter a residence hall they do not belong in. Furthermore, how would staff know if students are having social gatherings in certain dorms? How would they know if students have left campus? What is stopping students from just moving seats in dining areas like they have already been doing since arriving on campus? The answer is there is no way of controlling these factors when the responsibility is placed onto the students, making many of these rules futile.
These new restrictions can work in an ideal world, but the reality of things show that many students still will not follow these new guidelines. A simple way to increase their effectiveness is to have staff enforce them. People need to be correcting students who are not following these guidelines at an increased rate. People should also be making sure students are not having these unsafe gatherings that seem to be the cause of the large number of cases seen on campus. Rules in general will not work unless they are enforced, and the University needs to see that.
While it seems that I am advocating for the responsibility to be shifted from the students to the staff, a portion of it should still be on the students. We are the ones who are affected the most by this because it is what determines our college experience, so we have to make conscious efforts to preserve it during these difficult times.
Following these guidelines would do great deals in stopping the spread, with a lot of it resting in our hands. A collaborative effort from both staff and students is the most ideal way in handling the situation.
This email and the new guidelines that come with it are a step in the right direction in hopefully controlling the recent spike of cases, but things like this need to come more frequently. More communication can go a long way to make sure all of the students are on the same page in helping combat the spread of COVID-19. All we can do now is hope that over the next two weeks, these restrictions help make campus life more sustainable, or else we will see ourselves in a similar situation as last semester. We all need to do our part to uphold the University guidelines and stop the spread.