You can show the country that Buffs can handle anything, including a pandemic
You have the distinction of going to college in extraordinary times. You don’t need me to tell you this, of course. Headline writers describe the new school year with adjectives like “grim” and “frightening.”
You might view the fall semester with trepidation. That’s OK. Some fear can be healthy and make us more aware of our surroundings. To effectively handle COVID-19, we must be smart, careful and alert for bad behavior—which we all need to call out when we see it. We all are responsible for the health and safety of the university community.
For daily life on campus, this means observing rules including the following:
- wear a mask in public places on campus, indoors and outdoors
- wash hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) each time
- stay at least six feet apart from others and
- stay home when you are sick.
As the campus has noted, all students must take a COVID-19 basic awareness and safety training course on the Canvas learning platform before arriving on campus. Students living in the residence halls had to take a COVID-19 test before moving in. And before coming to campus each day, students, faculty and staff must complete a Daily Health Form, which helps us prevent the spread of illness.
The assistant dean of students has explained how you can have a safe and successful semester, and a reminder with additional information was sent out to all students. The whole campus wants to Protect Our Herd.
Simply put, this semester will be a referendum of sorts on the character of the CU Boulder community, its students, staff and faculty."
This much is clear: It takes more foresight and care to stay safe in a pandemic. Nonetheless, some view safety measures as a hassle or, in extreme cases, an infringement of personal liberty.
As the well-worn saying notes, your rights end at my nose. That’s why it’s distressing to see reports of unsafe behavior in cities and towns and universities nationwide. This week, The Washington Post reported on a party involving hundreds of students—most not wearing masks—near the University of North Georgia. The story noted similar mass gatherings of university students in Alabama and Oklahoma.
The story’s headline read: “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks.”
Not behaving safely has consequences, such as these: Last week, the University of Northern Carolina at Chapel Hill and Michigan State University canceled all in-person classes. The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for two weeks.
Here at CU Boulder, you have the advantage of learning from the recent past at other universities. Absorbing those lessons—which means being vigilantly safe and socially distant—will help ensure that you enjoy a successful semester in trying times.
But success is largely in your hands. Simply put, this semester will be a referendum of sorts on the character of the CU Boulder community, its students, staff and faculty. You can reject the behavior that’s making headlines across the nation. You can show the country that Buffs can handle anything, including a pandemic. In so doing, you will help to ensure that in-person classes are not canceled, and that everyone may enjoy the most productive semester possible.
My faith and trust are in you. Protect the herd.
James W.C. White is interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.