During this challenging semester, students have been left frustrated regarding the lack of transparency from the university administration regarding COVID-19 cases, policies and campus.
There is also frustration with the COVID-19 dashboard and the lack of data it gives when compared with other schools. People have been watching the dashboard for the positive case numbers in the hopes of remaining in person for the semester, but have felt disappointed by the lack of transparency regarding the numbers of quarantined students.
Students are left to listen to rumors about who is quarantined and how many cases there are, both of which have neither been confirmed or denied by the university. Without the data, how can we know what rumors are true? How can we adjust our daily schedule to be safer when we don’t have the full information?
There are also no staff and faculty case numbers listed, leading to incomplete positive case totals. This once again leads us to ask how we can keep ourselves safe if we do not know the full extent of the situation.
The Health Center has been a source of aggravation for many students due to their lack of transparency and efficiency during this time. Students have reported that they have had to wait several days to hear back from the health center after repeated calls and emails. Meanwhile, they do not know whether they should go to class or quarantine. Students are just trying to ensure they are following proper procedure, but there is nobody readily able to confirm or deny that they are. Professors have reported exposure or positive results and haven’t been contacted by human resources or the Health Center.
Additionally, COVID-19 testing has also caused concern among students. Only those who are symptomatic are getting tested. It was later switched to a recommendation that those who came into contact with a positive person should also get tested. Many students find themselves needing to go off campus to obtain a timely COVID-19 test. Meanwhile there are other schools that do random testing on their students in order to keep case levels down.
Quarantined students have been asked to email their professors themselves about their situation until the Health Center can follow up. However, students have reported professors asking for proof from the Health Center of their quarantine and are unable to provide it as they have not yet been contacted, leading many to worry about academic penalties. As cases continue to rise, some professors have neglected to adjust course delivery or workloads, creating additional stress for students.
It should not be the students’ responsibility to seek out this information, this help. We are asked to keep up the Valpo Vow, but when we ask for information in return, we get none.
Interim President-Elect Colette Irwin-Knott’s most recent email to campus on Nov. 4 was a step in the right direction, but it was still demeaning. Students who are not being irresponsible are still going into quarantine and testing positive. College students are essential workers on the front lines. To pay our bills, we get the low-level jobs in nursing homes and hospitals, wait tables and bartend, student teach and work in grocery stores. We’re forced to go to in-person classes even if we’re uncomfortable with it. Many of us have developed anxiety or depression, and if we had it already it’s gotten worse. And yet, many of our workloads have not gone down. Finals are going ahead as scheduled.
Her level of transparency in this email should have been in effect throughout the entire semester, not in the last month.
We hope to see more transparency regarding COVID-19 when we return in January.