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November 2020

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By Jessica Johnson 

Staff Writer 

This year the holidays are coming with the added challenge of the pandemic. Many of us share gifts of gratitude during this time of joy and marvel at the decorations inside and outside our homes. But rarely do we stop and think about the impact our gifts have on the planet. 

Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to enjoying the holidays at the expense of the Earth however, it’s simple and easy to adapt to a healthier holiday for the planet. Some of the easy to-do’s are as simple as picking out a real christmas tree and starting a new tradition of  planting a new one, along with becoming a bit closer to nature by spending more time outside.

A new holiday tradition that you can do to actively help save the environment is just going outside and enjoying the winter season (Cowan 2020).  Go on nature walks with your family, friends or even a dog or two. This will bring you closer to the people you love while practicing social distancing as well. Bring everyone together before your annual holiday meal and go on a walk to enjoy nature. This way people will be hungry when you return and ready to sit down for the holiday feast. Another tradition that your family can adopt to further benefit your local community and wildlife is planting a new evergreen tree each holiday season. Planting a tree together will symbolize the value of nature, and you also will be  “returning ” a tree for “taking” one as your annual Christmas tree.

Illustration by Grace Filloramo

Many people think that cutting down a christmas tree each year is bad for the environment, but it is actually the exact opposite. Although plastic trees could be used for years, many people throw them out after only a couple of uses, once they become less attractive from repeated use. Fake trees are made up of petroleum products (PVC) which last forever. Once these trees are discarded, they sit in landfills where they never decompose. Getting a live tree from a local farm helps the local community and they are a renewable resource, regularly replanted each year. They also contribute to good air quality, and ninety percent of all leftover christmas trees are sent to be repurposed into mulch. This mulch is usually then used to local gardeners and landscapers, to make your community a more beautiful place come summer time. 

As you see it’s easier than you might think to make your holiday a little bit more  “green” this holiday season. It’s important to think about the environment as well when we are getting together to reflect on what we have to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s as simple as coming together a little bit more in nature, going on a walk and maybe planting a small tree while you’re at it. Along with making it a new family tradition of going to your local tree farm and cutting down your own natural Christmas tree.

Sarah Knickerbocker

Design Editor 

Religious freedom and the rights of the queer community have always had a tumultuous relationship in the United States. Now, with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the tension has built and left the LGBTQI+ community even more uneasy because of her conservative views.          

Barrett is a devout Catholic and taught at a school affiliated with the “People of Praise” group which strongly believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. While she has a right to religious freedom like anyone else, the fear is that she will bring her conservative, religious beliefs to the courtroom and allow her religious beliefs to influence decisions on individual rights for the LGBTQI+ community. In fact, Pope Francis warned about lay-led groups like People of Praise in 2014 saying that they were “usurping individual freedom” and delegating “important decisions about their lives to others.” 

“Love your neighbor doesn’t have exceptions,” said Oliver Hogan ‘22, who was raised in a Roman Catholic family and advocates for the queer community in the church. 

Due to the bipartisanship of the government, many citizens feel the need to pick a side with these issues leaving America heavily divided including in the Supreme Court. 

“I think that one of the hardest things for those of us in the LGBTQ community is that it doesn’t seem right, fair, or correct that we have to ask people for basic civil rights and liberties. nevertheless, it’s the society we live in,” said professor of political science, Daniel Simmons. 

The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped pave the way for LGBTQI+ equality in the Supreme Court. But as soon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, President Trump and his administration worked quickly to fill her spot to benefit their political views. Despite being determined “qualified” by the New York City Bar, Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing raised significant concerns such as “maturity of judgment” especially when it came to issues that are considered “politically controversial” according to the NYC Bar. Ten days before the 2020 presidential election, and seven days before RBG’s funeral, Barrett was indeed confirmed. 

“She’s going to walk through all of the doors RGB opened for her and close them for everyone else,” said international relations and Spanish major, Micayla O’Connor ’22. Barrett’s confirmation shows how Republicans can be elected for their religious beliefs to promote a political agenda that they will call a religious imperative. Therefore, many students are worried about the rights of the LGBTQI+ community now that the Supreme Court has a 6-3 Republican majority. “It’s fine to be strictly religious, but don’t take your Catholic views and tell me how I should live my life based on your views,” said O’Connor. 

Once confirmed, Barrett was automatically put on the ongoing case, Fulton vs. Philadelphia which addresses the tension between religious freedoms and LGBTQ rights. The case concerns a Roman Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia that claims that it can’t match foster children with same-sex households without violating its religious beliefs. 

This is contrary to what Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, has said when speaking on the topic. “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” he said in a documentary released last month. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

“The whole point of an adoption agency is to give those children a loving home,” Hogan said. “People use the Catholic church as an excuse for their own fear and hatred of others.” The addition of Barrett in the Supreme Court may tip the decision scales in favor of the adoption agency which would leave the LGBTQI+ community at risk for discrimination.  

“There are real problems with people using religion as a cloak for further discrimination and I think that’s something that rightly should be focused and called out,” Simmons said. 

The projected results 2020 presidential election gave many people hope for democracy and for the rights of queer people in the future. But, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over. “It is soul-crushing to have to justify your own existence in what some people would consider a ‘political dispute.’ 

“Who we are should never be up for debate,” said political science professor, Michael Bosia. His advice?, “Be aware, and vote as if your life depends on it because somebody’s life does depend on it.” 

Illustration by Sarah Knickerbocker

By Victoria Zambello

Executive Editor 

“Mr. Vice President, I am speaking,” said Kamala Harris during the 2020 vice presidential debate. 

Chills rippled through my body, recognizing that Harris was unapologetically tired of being interrupted and mansplained. Energy rose in my house of eight women, as we sat and watched the debate; but then, I began to realize that her assertiveness would turn voters away. I remembered the frustrating, yet prevalent stereotype of a woman using her voice to be labeled as bossy and aggressive. Four weeks after that debate, with fear, I waited for the results and a few days later I was filled with amazement that Kamala Harris did it. Harris became the first female, Black, South Asian Vice President of America. 

Illustration by Victoria Zambello

 As Harris relentlessly paves the way for women who are confident and beyond competent, she inspires solidarity for all genders and helps us recognize the value of women leaders. The concept of perfectionism, often expected of women, combined with confidence, presents a frustrating barrier that many women, including myself, struggle with daily. This standard enforces women to be anything but what society deems as desirable qualities, actions, and characteristics. We know, now more than ever, that going against societal norms and defying the odds is what sparks change. When Kamala Harris stood on the stage of her 2020 election speech – for the first time in a while, I felt a surge of confidence and power across the nation. Harris concluded her speech with, “See yourself in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before.” Can you imagine what the destruction of perfectionism will do to the next generation of girls and women? 

In addition to perfection and competence women leaders also face the expectation of emotion.   Research shows that many voters have a baseline gender preference for candidates. This means that during the voting process voters connect female candidates with gender stereotypes such as emotion and compassion; whereas men represent the characteristic of strength and power. 

In 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first woman to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. With the audacity to run, even though she was not allowed to vote, Stanton won and is continued to be known for her dominance within the women’s suffrage movement. In 1977, Barbara Ann Mikulski, served in the Senate, founding her campaign off of her passion for social work. The Maryland Democrat served both in the Senate and U.S. House Representatives until 2017, becoming the longest-serving woman in the history of congress. Like Harris, these women are the foundation of cracking the stereotypes of a woman in politics, showing America that a woman can lead with both compassion and dominance simultaneously. 

This research is also applied to women in the workplace. In their award-winning book, “Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” authors Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg showed that when women apply for promotion most only apply when they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Men, on the other hand, apply when they meet 50 percent of the qualifications. 

U.S. Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez famously said in 2018, “They’ll tell you you’re too loud, that you need to wait your turn, and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway.” 

Harris is far from perfect, and that is what I admire most about her. Harris never apologized for being strong-minded. She never backed down. When she stood against Pence in the debate, she made room for herself, whether he wanted her there or not. Better yet, she embraced her imperfections, refusing to change how she spoke because of the female gender stereotype of women in politics. She showed America that as we all know politicians aren’t perfect, but that the concept of perfectionism, specifically with women, is a sad social construct created from a decade of generations. 

This impact goes beyond inspiring women, to inspiring all genders, people within the BIPOC community, and people across a variety of demographics. In 2020, Vermont elected its first openly transgender lawmaker, Taylor Small. 

“The impact of Taylor’s groundbreaking victory cannot be overstated,” Victory Fund President and CEO, Mayor Annise Parker wrote in a statement. “There are so few transgender people in elected office that nearly every win is a historic one, yet with each barrier broken comes more trans people inspired to do the same.” 

Each milestone for women in politics, each win for minorities in politics, holds an inevitable snowball effect of opportunity, creating a better world filled with a variety of perspectives, unity, kindness, and grit. 

No – I do not agree with every policy Harris stands behind. But, isn’t that the essence of a democracy? We will all never fully agree. What is important to me is that I hold trust and respect for the people in power. Harris has squashed stereotypes of women, by staying true to her ambitious and powerful self. To me, that makes the world a better place, for all genders. 

 In a society surrounded by stereotypes, critiques, and at times, hatred, I will follow Harris’s advice, understanding that seeing myself in a way that others may not, will continue to shatter stereotypes and open up new doors for all, regardless of how society expects a young-lady to act. 

Victoria Zambello is the Executive Editor for The Defender. She is a Senior Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major with a minor in Sociology. She holds a strong interest in law & policy and is an advocate for gender and race equality.

By Elijah Radoncic

Staff Writer

Following the outbreak of 77 total COVID-19 cases on the Saint Michael’s campus, over 150 students have been placed in either quarantine or isolation. In order to contain the virus and prevent its spread to other members of the community, these students are not able to leave their residences, which means that food must be delivered to them.

For quarantined senior Andrew Jones, that meant very regular delivery times, something he welcomed to break up the monotony of long days inside. “We got lunch around 12:00 every day. Dinner and breakfast came together around 5 p.m. Dinner always has a salad and the meal changes between a stir fry and pasta. Breakfast is a bagel and muffin, and lunch is a sandwich and chips,” he said.

The Associate Deans on campus play a major role in both the delivery process of meals, and the relocation of students for quarantine/isolation as necessary. “Once the Associate Dean on Duty hears from Bergeron Wellness that a student needs to isolate or quarantine, the Associate Dean will make contact with the student to assist in their relocation to isolation or quarantine,” said Meghan Ohler, director of residential operations & systems, and senior associate dean of students.

During the initial process of a student’s transition to either quarantine or isolation, their dietary needs are discussed with the Associate Dean. “Part of the conversation is around whether or not that person has any allergies or dietary restrictions. Once we know that information, we make a note so that we can notify Sodexo,” said Ohler.

“We have a system that tracks who we have and where,” added Jeffery Vincent, associate dean of students and director of residence life and community standards.“It takes a little while to put that document together because unfortunately, every morning that list is changing. Then that goes to Sodexo, and to the volunteers for the day. Sodexo uses that document to put the meals together. For example, it may say 45 meals to Joyce, 20 to Ryan, and 5 to Senior Hall. The volunteers divide that list up, and then they go disperse the meals. That happens every day, twice a day. It’s a real testament to the communal aspect of Saint Michael’s College,” said Vincent.

 “Everybody is trying to do their best to meet students where they are at. The volunteers who are students, staff and faculty, the residence life and student life staff who are organizing it, and the Sodexo employees who are putting their best foot forward. It is truly an effort of everyone,” Vincent said.


Photo by Kaitlin Woolery

By Mikey Halligan

Staff Writer

With the uptick in cases on campus, as well as the current surge in COVID-19 around the country, many Saint Michael’s coaches, parents, and athletes are still unsure if winter athletics will be able to compete for this upcoming 2020-2021 season.

On Nov. 12, Chris Kenny, Director of Athletics, sent an email to all winter sports athletes stating: “winter sports teams will not be allowed to return to organized athletic activity between now and Thanksgiving, and will also not be allowed to remain on campus to practice over the first half of the semester break.”

“In the past, two or three weeks since we had the outbreak, it has certainly taken a toll on athletes and they still have the option to go home if they feel that is best for them… we are not going to force them to stay,” explained Bollhardt. “We coaches had a plan, but then we got new restrictions put in place so we are trying to figure out what our new plan can be… we are hoping to play early January, so it would be beneficial to get some practices in before we go home for Christmas,” said Shannon Bollhardt, Head Coach of Women’s Basketball and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Advisor (SAAC).

While winter sports teams are still figuring out the unknown about their competitive seasons, many student-athletes are becoming anxious and nervous about not hearing anything from college and coaches.   

Illustration by Nicole Anderson

“Mentally the fact that we have been constantly waiting for any sort of news has left me and my teammates feeling anxious. We know that the decision is not in our hands, but the best thing for us to do now is to prepare as if we are playing in the second semester,” said Andrew DeCristoforo ’22, a player on the Men’s Ice Hockey team.

 “It has been difficult to remain positive in this time of uncertainty,” said Abby Sullivan ’21, a member of the Alpine Skiing team. “I hope the athletic department will soon confirm a plan and notify the winter sports teams regarding the fate of our seasons.”

While communicating with Kenny about the return-to-campus dates for student-athletes next semester, he explained that there are no set dates athletes are expected to come back. “The decision on when to return is made by a combination of the head coach, athletics administration, and college leadership. Of course, the State of Vermont is also involved if conditions merit.”

“I’m really conflicted because I want to be excited to play but I’m not convinced we will actually be having a season,” explained Mikaila Langbacka ’24 a player on the Women’s Ice Hockey team. “These are probably the last four years of hockey I will ever play and I don’t want one of those years to be taken from me.”

“So, given the news, our team moving forward will be focusing on academics as well as strength and conditioning,” said Bollhardt. “We know they are limited in how much access they have to basketball courts at home, so the focus will be to have them return to campus after the holidays as fit as possible so we can focus on basketball!”  

“As of right now competitive seasons are planned for next semester,” said Kenny. “Northeast-10 member institutions continue to monitor and adjust to, on a daily basis, the impact of the virus at the national, regional, and state levels and stay in constant communication with each other as we move forward together.”

Although the winter sports seasons are still unclear, the NCAA made it public on Oct. 20 that Division II winter athletes will receive an additional season of competition through a waiver the Division II Management Council approved earlier that week. However, the NCAA has no part in offering students financial aid for the extra eligibility season’s academic year. It is up to the institution on how the student-athletes will pay for their tuition if granted eligibility.

By Charles Wilson

Multimedia Editor

  As the spike of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed on campus in late October, the need to clean isolation areas became more and more apparent, but that meant custodians would have to enter bathrooms and common areas of buildings where positive cases were waiting out their isolation and quarantine.  The pandemic rages on, and the luxury of “going virtual” can be impossible for a significant portion of jobs in America. On-campus, custodial staff not only can’t work remotely but have to venture into buildings with a dense student population. A few of these custodians have volunteered to work in a residence hall with positive cases of COVID-19. Graham Lebel,  chapter chair of the Saint Michael’s College custodial workers’ union, is one of a few who did so.

     “I volunteered because I felt I was low risk enough for it to be safe,” said Lebel. “I am 41 and don’t have any health issues that would make me higher risk.” But that doesn’t mean he isn’t concerned about exposure. His concerns surrounding COVID-19 mainly involve his wife and three-year-old son, and his mother, who takes care of his son three times a week. “Since the outbreak, I no longer enter my mom’s house when I drop him off,” Lebel said. “I’ll probably be extra careful at least until 14 days after Thanksgiving.”

    “The original plan was to not clean isolation areas,” said Lebel. “I believe the assumption was that the population in isolation would be small enough that we could get away with not cleaning the area.” With a semester total of 79 positive cases, nearly five percent of the undergraduate population, that became unrealistic. “The amount of trash generated by takeout containers alone made cleaning necessary,” Lebel said.

     Armed with his N95 mask and gloves provided by the college, Lebel cleans Joyce Hall during a designated hour when students are required to stay in their rooms. Since COVID travels through the air, it’s important that there is as little contamination as possible. “The students are supposed to stay in their rooms, but this does not always happen,” Lebel said.

     The college has put notable effort into helping the custodial workers according to Jim Durkin, Communications Director for AFSCME Council 93. They’ve cooperated with the union representing them, AFSCME Council 93, which has been working across New England to secure benefits for the people they represent.

    “The college has been extremely helpful and cooperative throughout the pandemic,” said Jim Durkin, noting that even with a decrease in hours during the lockdown, custodians received full pay. “The college did what they could to keep income steady for these workers.”

     The union also requested that all the quarantined students be housed in one residence hall, which the college agreed to. “I’m told that the director of facilities, Joel Ribout, has been great about listening to our concerns and has worked closely with us to address any COVID-related issues as they come up,” Durkin said, noting that these concerns include accommodating flexible hours for people with childcare issues. 

     To enter these buildings more safely, custodians need to use Personal Protective Equipment such as an N95 mask and gloves. “They’ve done a solid job making sure that we have access to adequate PPE,” Durkin explained.

Illustration by Charles Wilson

     It’s unclear whether hazard pay would offer more for the custodial workers as a whole or if the workers who volunteer to clean quarantine buildings would receive higher pay than those who don’t, but regardless the inclusion of hazard pay at all would be a good gesture from the college. Unfortunately, due to complications with stimulus packages and qualification restrictions, Saint Mike’s hasn’t secured a stimulus package since the CARES act in April. AFSCME Council 93 has been at the forefront of advocating for hazard pay and, in many cases across New England, has delivered. For the college to award hazard pay to their custodians, they would have to qualify for further stimulus money.

     We asked you on Instagram if you think custodial staff working in quarantine and isolation buildings should receive hazard pay, and almost 97% of you answered yes. “If they aren’t, that’s ridiculous,” said one anonymous response. The state and federal government are the only things standing between a stimulus package and the custodian’s hazard pay, but in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, tensions are higher than ever.

     “From a practical standpoint, we should certainly qualify. We were exposed to one of the biggest outbreaks in Vermont and it was entirely predictable,” said Lebel regarding hazard pay.

      The option to test externally using the health insurance provided by the college’s employees is an option, but sometimes an unrealistic one. Transportation, availability, and external responsibilities are some of the many reasons why external testing could be difficult. “I reached out to the SGA president [about custodial staff being tested for COVID] and the response wasn’t necessarily urgent,” said Lena O’Donnell, a member of the Student Labor Action Movement, or SLAM. “It didn’t really seem like the custodial staff and their safety was an issue.”

     Maddi Sousa, the President of SLAM, added “To say that custodians can just ‘go off-campus’ on their own free time and get tested assumes that they don’t have another job, that they have the transportation to get there, that they have the resources to get there and know where to go. It’s adding a lot more responsibility on their part when really they’re doing the most for us and we’re giving them nothing back.”

     Vanessa Bonebo, the SGA president, clarified that her response wasn’t meant to convey a lack of urgency. She and others at the college recognize the need for on-campus testing, but the Broad Institute simply wasn’t able to take on the additional tests for staff members, including custodial staff. This issue has been confirmed to be a priority for the college, as both Bonebo and Joel Ribout, Director of Facilities, made it clear that the college is hard at work to address the issue. “Details of that have not been worked out yet, but they are being actively discussed,” said Ribout.

     While Lebel may not be at high risk for complications, he is indirectly in contact with people who are. “I do not regret volunteering,” said Lebel, “but my hope is that the college will offer voluntary testing for staff in the future. My biggest fear is that I will get COVID-19, but be asymptomatic and spread it to my three-year-old son, who could then be asymptomatic and spread it to my mom or his pre-school.”

Kaitlin Woolery

Photo Editor

Life at Saint Michael’s College suddenly changed the third week in October when several students tested positive for COVID-19 immediately sending those students into isolation, while many other students identified as “close contacts” were asked to quarantine. The number of students in isolation and in quarantine reached over 150. As a result, classes immediately went remote for a few days, which extended to a week, followed by an announcement that all classes were to remain online the duration of the semester. 

During the 2020 Spring semester many college students across the country were faced with an unprecedented pandemic and lockdowns at home. St. Michael’s College, along with many other colleges and universities offered students the option of receiving a grade of pass/no pass which helped alleviate stress affiliated with the hardships caused by the disruption in education. Students did not have to worry about grades negatively impacting their GPA.

This Fall, many schools are again deciding to offer the pass/no pass option due to stress and disruptions caused by the increased cases of Coronavirus. According to their websites, UMass Boston, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown University recently implemented pass/fail policies for the Fall term. Middlebury College in Vermont is offering a credit/no credit option limited to one class this semester. Will Saint Michael’s College offer this option again for the Fall 2020 semester?

I reached out to Registrar & Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Marnie Owen and Associate Dean Tim Mackin to answer the following questions:

Q: How was the decision made to offer a pass/no pass option to students last Spring?

A: “The Pass/No Pass was implemented as a response to the unprecedented and unexpected disruptions of the spring semester due to COVID-19. The move to virtual or remote instruction was a necessary response to the rapid onset of the pandemic, but it was also not part of the academic plan when classes began in January 2020. Students and faculty thus had to make relatively abrupt and unexpected adjustments to these new circumstances. While those adjustments went well overall, we wanted to provide options for students who were concerned about any effects on their academic performance. Changing to Pass/No pass was also in keeping with how many colleges and universities were responding to the relatively sudden change to virtual or remote courses across the country. Because of this, we felt the Pass/No pass would not put our students at a competitive disadvantage when they chose to apply to graduate and professional programs after graduation.”

Q: What percentage of students took advantage of this option last Spring?

A: “Out of the 1,893 people who took a class in the spring of 2021 – including undergrads, graduate students and non-degree students – 471 (or ~25%) elected to convert one or more passing grades to “P” grades.”

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of offering a pass/no pass option?

A: “The Pass/No Pass relieved pressure on students who struggled with the unexpected adjustments, and it minimized any negative consequences for their GPA by eliminating failing grades and diminishing lower ones. It did create some problems, however. GPA is a helpful indicator of students who are struggling academically, so the Pass/No Pass has made it more difficult to identify those students and provide extra help and guidance. Many of our majors and programs also build upon previous coursework, where students need to master skills and concepts to be fully prepared for upper-level courses. The Pass/No Pass makes it harder to gauge whether a student is ready for those courses, which can lead to struggles down the road. We’re already seeing the effect of both of these concerns with students this fall, and those problems would be magnified if a Pass/No Pass were offered in back-to-back semesters.”

Q: With the spike in positive COVID cases and classes going online, has there been any thoughts on offering a pass/no pass option for Fall 2020?

A: “The Pass/No Pass was an important part of our adjustments to the shock of the pandemic, but it also involved a significant compromise of our academic standards. In addition to the problems for individual students described above, persistent compromise of academic standards could diminish the perception of a Saint Michael’s degree and possibly create problems for our accreditation. Those problems would be compounded by the fact that there’s been no larger movement in Higher Education toward Pass/Fail or Pass/No Pass grading this fall, which also could create issues for our students pursuing graduate and professional degrees. Unlike Spring 2020, we’ve also known about COVID, the potential for an outbreak, and the possibility of moving to virtual courses on short-notice since the beginning of the semester. That possibility has been a central part of our academic and campus planning and our communications to the SMC community about the fall. For all of these reasons, we have decided that an additional semester of Pass/No Pass grading would not be in the best interest of the college and its students.”

By Emma Shortall

Managing Editor

I open the email from President Sterritt and instantly I start shaking. I am in full disbelief. I should’ve known it was coming, but this all changed so quickly and so abruptly. Why did it change within 24 hours, why yesterday could we have people over, but now we can’t?

In the email from President Sterritt, she states that as a result of our rising COVID-19 positive cases (we currently have 66 on the dashboard) the rest of this semester’s classes will be conducted remotely, there will be no in-person group activities, we will continue with take-out dining and all gatherings of any size are prohibited, therefore no on-campus or off-campus guests are allowed in any residences, including rooms and common areas. 

As someone who has followed the COVID-19 protocol for the whole semester, I am extremely hurt by the decision that we are not allowed to have any on-campus visitors or students, other than of course our roommates. I only live with one other person, so she and I plan to tough it out and go stir crazy together. I believe other students and myself would be more than happy to be wearing masks all day every day if it just meant we could even spend a minute with our other friends on campus. 

Trust the majority of your student body, we want this all to go away too.  

Looking at the COVID-19 Dashboard, it looks as though there are around 1,400 students on campus and there have been 66 positive cases. Doing simple math, that is around 5% of the campus has tested positive, but what about the other 95%? 

We are sent this email, yet there are still so many unanswered questions. Are we still allowed off campus for essentials? Can we still go to the grocery store? We have been able to this whole semester despite possibilities of exposure. Can we not see our friend while wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and getting tested regularly? Can we not even see our neighbors who live in the same residential area as us, despite all of us testing negative time and time again? It simply doesn’t make sense.

What if we completely shut down campus, with no one allowed in? This would limit outside exposure while still allowing us to socially distance with our friends. We would still have online classes, but even the slightest social interaction would make this all a tiny bit better. Food from Alliot could be delivered to the students on the meal plan, and for others we could InstaCart our groceries and order delivery. I’d rather be using all my Alliot swipes to see my friends’ faces. 

Who is enforcing these new rules? I messaged a Resident Assistant shortly after we got this email and she had no clue about what steps the school is going to take next. How can the people who are supposed to be our support system in the residences not even know what’s going on? There needs to be a warning for these Resident Assistants, as well as for the students so we are prepared when our lives are suddenly flipped upside down.

This situation seems like a subtle way of getting us off-campus without the school losing money. By making it our choice, it’s no one else’s fault but our own for leaving. The Administration seems to be gently guiding us out the gates, yet that is the last thing we want to do. 

I am extremely hurt by these decisions, in particular, the no visitor rule, and I’m sure many of my fellow peers feel the same. No one wants to be isolated from their friends when they’ve done nothing wrong. Work with us who have been following these rules so we can stay healthy while also staying sane these next few weeks.