A Reflection on the First Two Weeks back on Campus

Sarah Manderbach '22, Opinion Editor

As most of the student body returns to campus for another year of learning, and entering my senior year of my undergraduate career, I’ve found myself contemplating more than usual the question of how long we will have until there is a massive outbreak on campus of coronavirus and its many variants. I’ve heard the horror stories from all across the country of unvaccinated people being hospitalized and dying at alarming rates, and I fear that something similar may happen on Dickinson’s campus. 

After observing the student body these past few weeks, it’s safe to say that my fears have not been alleviated in the slightest.

First, I’m sure many of you reading this now have heard of the rampant parties raging across campus. The first weekend on campus, there is video footage of one hundred plus people leaving a rager in the Factory apartments, and of course none of them were wearing masks, because who wants to be responsible and safe during a pandemic? The townhouses are still having crowds of people outside their residences.

I’m not one for parties in the first place, and I understand that we all missed being on campus during this last year and a half. However, does that give you the right to take advantage of the privilege it is to be back on campus and squander away your chances of being at Dickinson by attending these super-spreader events? I don’t think it does.

Parties aren’t the worst of it. The first week on campus, I’ve seen several students wearing masks improperly in buildings and other indoor facilities, such as classrooms, the HUB, and academic buildings. Most of these cases are students who are not eating or drinking or who have the classic case of “I don’t want to put my mask above my nose,” which is the most common case I’ve seen. 

While Dickinson encourages students to ask peers to remind them of the mask policy, as stated in Dean Stroud’s email to the student body on September 7 of this year, they still are asking us to “report to the conduct office any student who blatantly violates the masking policy.” This can be much harder than the administration makes it out to be. Let me provide an example, as told to me by a friend. Let’s say I’m in the atrociously long line at the Caf and the person in front of me is not wearing their mask properly. I ask them to fix it and they don’t comply. What makes you think that this person who I’ve never met is going to give me their name after this confrontation?

The answer is that there is no way they’re going to give you their name after that encounter.

Unfortunately I have had this difficult encounter myself, with a classmate who still didn’t comply with the proper wearing of a mask after an email sent out by my professor, a gentle reminder in class, and me asking them at the end of the class to fix it. I was met with a harsh glare and no words or adjustments of the mask. 

I know some professors are putting in the best work possible to enforce this rule, but sadly it is not enough. Dickinson students need to take responsibility before cases surge. You don’t know if the person next to you is immunocompromised or one of the small percentage of our population that isn’t vaccinated. I’ve waited years to have my spot back at Dickinson for my senior year, and underclassmen have been waiting to safely be on campus. The last thing we want is for this chance to finish this year on campus to be squashed because some immature college students don’t have the mind to think of others.