Ask us what we think: Students share their perspectives and opinions on the Covid situation on campus

Nicole Yeager, Special Features Editor

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at an alarming rate, the University community feels unsafe and ultimately left in the dark. Since student arrival just over three weeks ago, circumstances on campus have been unpredictable and volatile, with an average of 20 new positive cases reported each day. Even with new guidelines and procedures being introduced by the week, this semester is proving to be exponentially worse than last semester. With the countless factors that could be at play—move-in testing procedures, reinstatement of athletics, severity of campus guidelines, behavior of students, a new strain of the virus and many more — all of our students have unique perspectives and opinions, and many of them are striving to voice them.

“I am disappointed and terrified by Bucknell’s COVID-19 response this semester. Admin’s actions have proven that they were unprepared for the current outbreak and are completely incapable of containing the virus and keeping students safe. How is it that with 100+ cases, the KLARC remains open, and close contacts are able to share bathrooms and dining spaces with other students? In addition to these insufficient policy changes, Bucknell is also responsible for perpetuating a culture of unconcern and entitlement among the student body. I have had homophobic slurs and curses hurled at me for confronting students who refused to wear masks; other people have had similar experiences. My friend had been threatened by multiple students for speaking out and demanding better action on part of the University. I am disgusted and ashamed of my fellow students and so concerned about this situation and I am considering returning home. Do better, Bucknell.” ––Sage Lamade ’22.

“The current state of COVID-19 on campus seriously concerns me. We have so many more cases this semester than we did last semester, and we don’t seem to be trending in the right direction. While it might have been wiser for the administration to have started the semester with all classes fully online until we got a sense of what the spread on campus would be like, I do not blame the administration for the current situation. I think it’s mostly students’ faults. I know people are gathering in large groups and partying. I know of people who told Bucknell they were doing ‘remote learning’ this semester, but really just rented a house downtown. I heard of people who are living on campus but get hotel rooms for the weekends so they can party without being stopped by Public Safety. I find it so incredibly selfish that people do these things, and I have no respect for it. As a senior, this is my final semester, and while it was never going to be 100 percent normal, I was hoping to be able to at least feel somewhat comfortable about being on campus. I live with my friends in an apartment in South Campus, so thankfully my living situation is pretty ideal, but I do feel bad for people who are more isolated, like in singles. I get that everyone is tired of this pandemic and I want to have fun and party as much as the next guy, but this is not going to get better if we don’t make some sacrifices. I hate that so many people are doing the right thing and following the rules and the (fewer) people who aren’t doing so might ruin it for the rest of us. If we get sent home early, I will be very disappointed, but I’ve already resigned myself to that possibility. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude about things and enjoy my remaining time here, but I recognize that my career at Bucknell is ending in quite an anti-climactic way. Though I love Bucknell dearly and will be sad to leave, I am ready to move on with my life and start the next chapter, hopefully right as the world is closing its chapter on COVID-19.” ––Nate Freed ’21.

“I believe student athletes are feeling lost and neglected. I can honestly say that no one has asked me what I think the odds are to play this year. Instead we are expected to show up to training with the knowledge that the plug can be pulled at any moment. We are living in fear of losing everything, in fear of returning back to practices and getting injured, in fear of being strung along all semester for nothing. I understand this pandemic is something we cannot control. I also understand there are no right answers. I am not asking for the right answers. I am asking for transparency. I am asking for people to TELL us what they think the next steps are, to ASK us what we think and how we are feeling. I have not seen or spoken to anyone that makes some of the most important decisions of my senior year. I encourage administration to do better. Talk to us, ask us what we think, how we are feeling, what we want of this year instead of sitting behind a computer and sending us an email every Friday afternoon.”––Bri Kropinack ’21.

“I’m glad to see that close contacts are no longer allowed to go to high traffic dining locations; however, I feel it’s still concerning that the gym and other high traffic locations are remaining open even though we are close to exhausting the supply of isolation housing.” ––Jenna Beucler ’23.

“In the last few emails, [University President John] Bravman updated us that there isn’t enough housing for all positive students and/or contact-traced students so they have been living on campus and getting food in the dining halls among the rest of the student body. In the president’s most recent update, he said these students will no longer be picking up their food from the regular dining hall, but from the Larison dining hall. As someone who lives in Larison, it is super concerning to think these positive/contact-traced students are going to be inside our building, in even closer proximity to us. It’s hard to believe students will follow directions to a tee and not use entrances that I, a negatively-tested student, will be using. I trust that Bravman is doing his best and he is limiting the amount of people these quarantining students might have exposure to, but it’s scary to think I might be in more danger now.” –– Courtney Wolin ’23.

“I think the school knows they messed up and should’ve tested in-state PA students the weekend we all moved in, and they’re doing the best they can to fix this now so we can still have a decent semester. Students need to see the bigger picture. I think we’re lucky we can even still go to the library, gym, other people’s rooms and aren’t fully on lockdown. Yeah it stinks we can’t go out, have athletics or eat with our friends, but if we just follow the rules and limit our bubble for two weeks, we can stay on campus all semester and still have fun once the cases are reduced.” –– Meghan Curran ’23.

“I find it astonishing how many Bucknell students are willing to challenge COVID guidelines on campus. I know everyone here is a capable human being and smart enough to understand the consequences, but it seems as though a certain population of students believe that they are invincible. Also, the amount of gaslighting that I’ve experienced and witnessed among my peers is discouraging as our generation acts like this pandemic doesn’t apply to us. I currently feel very unsafe on campus as I don’t think policies are being regulated and students are taking responsibility.” –– M.K. Lance ’22.

“The situation that we’re in is extremely frustrating; however, equally frustrating is the lack of personal responsibility that people are taking for following guidelines and staying safe. I think that it’s easy to blame Bravman for his lack of inaction, but it’s extremely hypocritical to then not reflect and turn it on yourself. If people get the mentality that COVID is inevitable and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it, then cases will continue to rise.” –– Maya Wadhwa ’23.

“It’s really nerve-racking as a student to be on the edge of my seat waiting for another email from Bravman. I felt very in the dark this whole past week and even still today about the gravity of the situation. All this does is increase anxiety because we feel like the next email we might get is that we are being sent home… which I feel like should not come out of nowhere.” –– Kendall Robertson ’23.

These students who have stepped up to share their voice only represent a small percentage of the University student community. There are so many more who are feeling upset and afraid with the state of the campus and the various issues causing it. The main message that most students are making clear is: we need more to be done—from all parties—for the common good. If more is being done, we need more communication. And we need collective listening and acknowledging.

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