Letter: On-campus life offers more safety from virus

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I have been noticing a startling trend in the news these past couple of weeks. There seems to be only one broadcasted line on the reopening of the university system. I think it would do much good to take a more open analysis on the reopening of the UNC system, since there are many merits to the reopening of universities.

It is no secret that the age group of 18- to 24-year-olds is the most likely to contract and spread the coronavirus. However, I think most people have a one-sided view on the campus situation. I am a student at UNC Asheville, and I have witnessed firsthand the prompt measures that the university has taken to ensure our safety.

The university requires the wearing of masks in order to stifle the spread of any outbreaks; the university does not allow guests from outside of campus to come into any residential facilities; the university has a quarantine ward for any people infected, on top of regular random temperature checks and enforced 6-foot social distancing. Breaking these rules is grounds for expulsion, which is something that has been carried out on a number of occasions already.

Having been through downtown Asheville recently, I can say without a doubt that being a resident on the university campus is many times more safe than being a member of the general population with none of these protections and enforcements.

The final thing that bothers me about this anti-reopening push is that, so far, all of the reported incidents which have gained statewide attention, such as the fraternity parties at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and Appalachian State University, and the Granville Towers infections, have all been outside of campus, where the university system has no power.

With nearly 2 ½ million active cases in the country and rising, why on Earth would it be a good idea to let 100,000 to 200,000 students from an area of relatively enforceable safety into the very unsafe general population?

— Jeremiah Blake


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2 thoughts on “Letter: On-campus life offers more safety from virus

  1. bsummers

    Yes, as we all know, 18 – 25 yr olds are the most likely to act in the most responsible way possible.

  2. luther blissett

    On the one hand, there’s a power law operating here: the student body at UNCA (c. 3,800) is a lot smaller than Chapel Hill (c. 30,000) and drawn more from the WNC region. On the other hand, universities aren’t just students: they rely upon non-resident academic and admin and support staff. On the third hand, if you’re going downtown, you’re going downtown. On the fourth hand (lots of hands here) if there is an outbreak sufficient to shut down on-campus residence, students are going to end up back in the general population, which was the worst part about the Chapel Hill debacle: they’d hauled all their stuff to campus and then had to haul it back.

    Colleges don’t need the same kind of isolation as, say, the NBA bubble (which holds under 2,000 people). There’s less (money) at stake. But In theory, on-campus learning is manageable as long as everyone buys in to the rules. Let’s see what happens in practice.

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