Rising case counts are as much administration’s fault as students’

We’ve had enough op-eds on coronavirus, so this won’t be another one. But I feel it’s necessary to touch on the email we received on Monday, as we all seem to have strong feelings about it.

  President Le Roy’s email says, “We have also seen evidence of failure by some to adhere to our health and safety guidelines, including delays in reporting COVID-like symptoms and illness, elevated numbers of close contacts because of social gatherings, failure to remain six feet apart, and ignoring occupancy limits in common spaces.” 

As the email goes on to explain, to combat the spread of COVID cases on campus, rather than taking swift actions against students who ignore  COVID guidelines, administration has chosen to place restrictions on the whole campus, closing communal seating areas and dining halls to name a few.

The majority of us are following the rules as best we can. We are wearing our masks, we are socially distancing. But the on-campus population is composed of mainly 19 to 22 year-olds, many of whom are experiencing freedom for the first time. Rules will be broken, either publicly or covertly.

With this in mind, why not head to the source? Hold the students who have misstepped responsible for their actions, rather than punishing the whole campus. Perhaps if students were given strict consequences for their carelessness, the actions would be less likely to occur again.

But maybe, rather than placing blame on students, it might be more appropriate to call out the university for the part it plays. Students will be students, but Calvin’s administration holds the reins. Was reopening campus to in-person classes (and, more importantly, dorm living), during the peak of American COVID cases a good idea? Online learning university-wide would require lower tuition and empty dorms, which hurts Calvin financially but would perhaps have avoided the “alarmingly rapid increase in COVID positivity rates.” 

The administration faces difficult decisions. Nothing is easy when you have a whole campus to think of, but the choices that are made impact the lives of students. 

In the email issued on Monday, students were asked to demonstrate behaviours outlined in the “Love Your Neighbor” covenant for students. The first and most important part of this covenant is a promise to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the Calvin community. Perhaps this is something that Calvin should show rather than tell by prioritizing the health and safety of students, even if it means losing money.