As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague universities across the nation, many have seen a “blame game” erupt between its students and administration following a significant outbreak of the virus or a mistake made in following social distancing protocols that potentially derails a campus’ in-person instruction.
The University of Tennessee’s administration recently released a statement blaming the school’s fraternities for hosting a secret party with over 100 students in attendance without masks. According to Consumer News and Business Channel, the school has since reported that the party is to blame for a staggering increase in COVID-19 cases.
At the University of North Carolina, outbreaks of the virus were also traced back to parties. However, the school’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, called out its administration for ignoring the recommendations of local county and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The argument behind the blame being that UNC’s leadership should have expected college students to behave recklessly despite the risk.
But what about Salisbury University?
SU administration quickly responded to the pandemic by creating and enforcing new social distancing guidelines, some of which have led to the suspension of 21 students in early September due to coronavirus-related violations, according to Delmarva Now.
The virus was previously reported to be spreading at a positivity rate above the school’s goal of remaining at or below 5%, according to the SU COVID-19 dashboard, though a more recent update now shows that the rate has been reduced to 4.4% since the return of the campus community.
As long as that level remains steady or continues to decrease, the likelihood of an outbreak of the virus, and a subsequently divisive “blame game” between students and administrators, stays relatively low.
However, there still seems to be a rise of concerns throughout the SU community, especially regarding the school’s COVID-19 testing process.
SU student Braydan Carew even tweeted his discontent to the public: “[I] sat in puddles of rain while it poured down on me to do a [self-administered COVID-19] test.”
Yet, there are still distinct opinions within the campus community about who holds the most responsibility, and therefore the most blame, when it comes to keeping SU safe going forward.
SU Director of Student Health Victoria Lentz said that students and administration, “share the responsibility. The administration [provides] policies and procedures to keep the campus community safe, and the students do their part by following the policies and procedures.”
Katie Hart a junior at SU agrees in that she believes, “it is up to the students to keep SU safe during [the pandemic] by evaluating how they feel physically before going to campus and then not going if they feel sick. If everyone holds themselves accountable for their actions and acts responsibly, we will be safer as a [community.]”
Should SU face a major outbreak or crisis involving the virus, a subsequent “blame game” could significantly affect dialogue between the students and administration, as well as affect the university’s COVID-19 policies and safety standards, as the pandemic continues to evolve, and will continue to be monitored as the semester proceeds.
By JACOB BEAVER
Featured image: Mac Cotterino image.