ASU has become one of the largest campuses in North America, with approximately 125,000 students in the University community at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. Amid the pre-COVID era, ASU's campus life was strongly community-based and centralized on residential experiences. However, due to the pandemic, that type of residential living poses one of the largest threats to the safety of students and faculty.
Rather than meet the challenge of regulating the behaviors of irresponsible students, ASU has enabled these risky behaviors. The University has chosen to ignore the seriousness of the pandemic by being complicit in every irresponsible social gathering that has occurred near campus, especially in relation to parties.
ASU needs to perform some seismic reforms on how it polices COVID, including the expulsion of entire fraternities and sororities if they're caught partying.
Similar to many universities across the country, ASU is faced with the difficulty of creating systems and monitoring services for the implementation of COVID procedures to minimize and control any outbreaks that occur on campus.
“At the beginning of the pandemic there was little oversight on work being done on implementing any kind of procedures on coronavirus related responsibilities," said Janae Stevenson, a senior studying political science and a former community assistant at Manzanita Hall on ASU's Tempe campus.
Stevenson elaborated about the embarrassing penal system put in place to make sure that students who violate COVID safety guidelines are given consequences for their actions.
“At most, I heard of students having to write an essay about their actions,” she said. “Whenever I approached one of my supervisors asking about the consequences some students would face, they responded with telling me, ‘Okay, let’s take an educational approach.’”
Stevenson said she left her job as a community assistant last semester because, among other things, the protocols for managing COVID were nonexistent.
Although she has left her position, she has heard stories from her former colleagues about the lack of guidance the University has given for managing students with COVID and taking action against those who knowingly break campus guidelines.
ASU needs to take this situation more seriously by implementing regulations in a draconian way to systematically enforce consequences for students who violate procedure, thereby mitigating the spread of COVID on campus.
I find it frustrating that ASU strictly reinforces regulations for things such as alcohol or campus walk only zone policies — but somehow the continuing spread of an infectious, deadly disease is an exception?
There should be random room checks to make sure residents are following protocols, digital contact tracing, mandatory vaccination requirements once it becomes widely available and a zero tolerance policy for all non-compliant social gatherings. Every resource should be dedicated to making the violation of COVID rules as serious as this University takes the walk only zones and keeping alcohol off campus.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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