As a transfer student, sometimes it feels like I was robbed of the “Carolina Experience.”
I know that I’m luckier than others — I got the chance to have one full semester of pre-pandemic normalcy of going to football games, eating at Lenoir and living on campus. Current first years and sophomores never got that luxury.
But at the same time, I’m angry.
How can an administration refuse to learn from its past mistakes? How can the University blatantly ignore the research that occurs on their very own campus in their decision making? How can the University begin this spring semester with the same — maybe even fewer — precautions as they did in August of 2020?
With closing isolation dorms, closing testing locations, reducing cleaning policies and limiting virtual learning options, it almost feels like we’re going backward. While cases of the omicron variant continue to rise, UNC continues filling stadiums for basketball games. It all seems like a sick joke.
This past week, I had a potential exposure to COVID-19. With my roommates gone, I could isolate and had access to a car, and was therefore in a privileged position. And still, after calling every pharmacy in a 15 mile radius, I could not get my hands on a rapid test. UNC, unlike other universities, has not made these readily available in situations like mine.
Communication between UNC and the community has been, per usual, subpar. I didn’t know until less than a week before returning whether I had to take a COVID-19 test to attend classes or not. UNC’s COVID-19 reporting dashboard reported its highest ever student case count on Jan. 4, and then was promptly paused until Jan. 10.
The lack of transparency that we’ve become so used to in Chapel Hill would be reason for outrage anywhere else.
The refusal of the University to temporarily push classes online — especially with COVID-19 infections being predicted at 850 to 1,650 per day — is shocking. It translates to roughly 1,000 people risking long-term illnesses and exposing their family and community — every single day.
And it’s a shame that higher administration, specifically the Board of Governors, refuses to take the step to require the COVID-19 vaccine (proven to be effective against the virus) for students. Especially when other elite public institutions, such as the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, have already done so. Additionally, leaving course format decisions up to individual deans and professors reveals a lack of responsibility at a leadership level.
It’s frankly embarrassing that a school that prides itself as the nation’s leading public health university has failed its students, faculty and community in so many ways in its COVID-19 response.
The number of negative national headlines UNC makes on a regular basis shadows any pride I can take in being a student of a national-championship-winning, elite, historic university. As a Carolina native, I spend my time thinking and writing about the worst that could happen — because that is what we've learned to expect from UNC.
I’m dying to see a UNC-Duke basketball game in the Dean Dome, graduate next to my friends at convocation and sign my name atop the bell tower. But if the “Carolina Experience” comes at the cost of the health of the community, I don’t want it.
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