We’re only a week into the semester and four COVID-19 clusters have already surfaced on and around campus.
Two COVID-19 clusters — one at Granville Towers and one at Ehringhaus Residence Hall — were reported Friday. On Saturday, UNC confirmed reports of a third cluster at the Sigma Nu fraternity house, and a fourth, at Hinton James Residence Hall, was reported Sunday.
In the messages, UNC clarified that a “cluster” is five or more cases deemed "close proximity in location," as defined by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
We all saw this coming. In his fall semester welcome message, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz wrote, “As always, remember that it is our shared responsibility to keep each other safe. Every person you walk by on campus will be counting on you to diligently work to prevent the spread of the virus.”
But University leadership should have expected students, many of whom are now living on their own for the first time, to be reckless. Reports of parties throughout the weekend come as no surprise. Though these students are not faultless, it was the University’s responsibility to disincentivize such gatherings by reconsidering its plans to operate in-person earlier on.
The administration continues to prove they have no shame, and the bar for basic decency keeps getting lower.
They chose to ignore the Orange County Health Department, which recommended that the University restrict on-campus housing to at-risk students and implement online-only instruction for the first five weeks of the semester. They chose to ignore the guidance of the CDC, which placed the University’s housing plan in the "highest-risk" category.
Even faculty — though many of them continued to teach classes in-person — saw it coming.
Now, as we prepare for a second week of classes, many questions remain unanswered. What factors will trigger the so-called off-ramps, and what will they look like? How many positive cases will it take for the University to realize the danger they’ve put us in?