Editor’s note: Publisher Ethan Busch did not participate in this Editorial Board due to his position as a Resident Advisor (RA).
The recently announced guest policy — which allows all students to have guests in their dorm room, as long as it’s one at a time — was initially scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. Not that it matters.
Regardless of whether the rules allow it or not, a significant portion of the student body has already been having guests over in their rooms. For some students, that means sneaking in a significant other, but otherwise adhering to UR’s policies. For others, that means cramming six friends into a single for some Friday night fun. The scale of the risks taken — of compromises made between an individual’s social life and the community’s safety — varies dramatically.
Where an individual draws their personal line is up to them. After a year of endless rules and limited contact with your closest friends, it’s not our role to judge you for imperfectly complying with regulations. But there is an undeniable disparity currently on campus, where some students have given themselves a free pass (or five) to have friends over as they please, but others haven’t had a conversation with anyone other than the dining workers in months. The students actually putting in the work to keep us safe are getting screwed over.
We don’t have any widespread data on the frequency and severity of COVID-19 rule-breaking, but we do have pitiful Dr. Chatbot compliance rates to aid our anecdotal evidence. Last semester, around 50% of students on average filled out the twenty-second survey. And according to the guest policy change announcement, many haven’t been showing up for their mandatory surveillance testing, either.
On our newspaper staff of 20, we’ve heard plenty of our hallmates have one (or five) too many voices in their rooms. And on other purely anecdotal data, the vast majority of RAs have done little to nothing about it.
In addition, unconfirmed rumors have been circulating online about parties full of students involved in Greek life (which have been disputed by leaders of those organizations).
Judging by the outbreak of 23+ cases over a single weekend, the no-guest policy never stood a chance. Students will decide for themselves how they want to act, for better or for worse. This current guest allowance mandates that both parties wear a mask at all times. If your guest is your significant other, that rule will likely be broken, even by the most compliant of students. And, importantly, this policy doesn’t change much for that large group of students who don’t care what the rules are.
But there is a small sect of campus who will benefit greatly from the change: the students who have been doing their best to follow the rules at all times. They are the ones who have been the most socially isolated, and part of the reason why campus hasn’t been shut down in the face of — admittedly not officially confirmed — moderate social gatherings that, in another life, would be considered a party. Formally giving rule-followers a bone will greatly increase their social lives and help improve their mental health. Luckily, they’re also the type of people for whom loosening up their behavior won’t increase public health risk by much.
To those of you who have been sincerely following UR’s COVID-19 regulations since the beginning of the pandemic: thank you. You’ve been doing the absolute most for this campus, and for that, we appreciate you.
To those of you who’ve regularly invited unmasked friends to your dorms — think before you complain about your stifled social life, especially if you’re talking to a friend who’s regularly declined invitations in the name of public health.
Most likely, people will continue to ignore their Dr. Chatbot reminders and their COVID-19 testing appointments. And it will be up to the people who actually care enough about our community’s health to follow the rules and keep cases to a minimum — not with the rest of us, but despite the rest of us.
The Editorial Board is a weekly Opinions article representing the view of the Campus Times, co-written by Editor-in-Chief Hailie Higgins, Publisher Ethan Busch, Managing Editors Corey Miller-Williams and Olivia Alger, Special Projects Editor Micah Greenberg, and Opinions Editor Lucy Farnham.