The Office of Residence Life recently changed its residence hall visitation policy in favor of allowing students and visitors into residence hall lobbies.
This change came after several weeks of residence halls being completely closed to anyone who doesn’t live in them.
While students who visit other residence halls are required to follow mask and social distancing policies, I do not think that allowing visitors into residence halls is a decision that aids in keeping the student population safe.
This decision was made with a few things in mind, but primarily to allow students living on campus and their friends to have more places to connect.
Building relationships, especially during the first year on campus, is certainly important for students, but I think keeping students living on campus safe is even more important.
Between the numerous outdoor gathering spaces added to campus and the events put on by the Offices of Student Life, Student Productions and assorted academic departments, students on and off campus have many opportunities to connect with each other and have some safe fun in town each week.
It seems that this decision was also made in response to the several weeks we had of few positive COVID-19 cases on campus.
However, this is no longer the case. In less than one week, the number of ACU-related cases more than tripled. Even with the adjustments to group gatherings made by Student Life, positive cases have continued to climb.
As a whole, the university has done well with taking the coronavirus seriously, but it needs to keep the regulations that have kept us safe to date in place for them to remain effective.
When I first started this semester, I was not looking forward to working with the many regulations I would have to follow, even as a student living in a house off campus.
I definitely haven’t come to love any of these rules, but I have started to appreciate how much trouble they have kept us out of as the reports of other universities closing or being even more restrictive have continued to follow large numbers of positive cases.
If the rules and regulations the university has enforced to allow its students to remain on campus have protected us from the high number of positive cases, why should we change them?
I certainly appreciate the ways that student life employees have focused so much time and energy on connecting students this semester, and I don’t think our semester would have felt real without their efforts. As someone who works closely with the Office of Student Productions, I understand how much time and effort has gone into planning the many events we’ve had on campus so far.
Even with this in mind, I think it’s important to remember that if things begin to negatively change on campus and cases start to spread, restrictions will become even tighter and students will have fewer opportunities to connect.
Even as the rules evolve, we should all keep this in mind and continue working together to balance connections on campus with safety and protection. Keeping the number of positive cases low is what will allow us the freedom to build more connections in the future.