Student Concerns Prompt COVID-19 Addendum Review

Claire Jeantheau '21, Staff Writer

Ambiguities in the scope of Dickinson’s COVID-19 Addendum to the Community Standards, along with mentioned violations, led to an open student discussion of the document. The discussion was led at the weekly Student Senate Zoom meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9th

Senate President Phil Butler ‘21 guided the conversation by sharing the addendum on his screen, reading through select sections, and then opening the floor for comment. Identified sections of concern included “Stay At Home” (referring to the restricted movement period), “Visitors,” “Common Spaces,” and “Travel.”

Multiple attendees listed cars as an area not adequately covered by the current addendum. Rumors were discussed of students offering rides to those from different pods, as well as the use of cars as a social space. A loophole was discovered in the “Travel” section of a 50-mile cap on off-campus movement, which could be used to justify visits to Harrisburg and outlying towns. However, Butler reminded attendees that this provision was intended for commuter students, and that Residence Life would likely object to submitted travel intent forms which bent the policy.

Following student feedback, Butler felt that further attention was needed to disciplinary action within the addendum. 

“I think there may need to be some clarity in the addendum as to the disciplinary process and ‘no tolerance’ ideology because violations are not always black and white, which I know [the] administration is aware of,” Butler wrote. “I would also add that there should be some transparency as to when students will move into isolation based off reported violations or contact tracing necessities.”

Junior class senator Jiberly Sandoval ’22 found the discussion helpful, adding that she was accustomed to following earlier versions of the addendum and related Campus Community Compact while living on campus during the fall 2020 semester.

I think there were some things that were unclear[,] but we discussed them during the meeting,” Sandoval wrote. “…I don’t think the guidelines are hard to follow but we as a community have to hold each other accountable to make sure no one gets sick.” 

Krystal Ramirez ’21 also benefited from attending the document review and proposed a series of biweekly or monthly forums centered on COVID updates. 

“It’s important to know what’s going on in our campus,” Ramirez wrote. She also suggested subjects for conversation: “Are students going to all required testing? Do we have any positive cases? Anyone else not following the compact, and if so, what measures are being put in place to protect students’ health? Any updates on the vaccine being accessible to students?”

Butler said that the review was planned to respond to student questions—particularly about the document’s definition of “’restricted movement’”—and to encourage accountability. 

“Given that the first group of students had just been moved off restricted movement and the second wave of move-ins just happened, it seemed like the perfect time to remind everyone of the agreement we all signed to ensure the community’s safety,” Butler wrote in a response. 

Maggie Wilson ’21, the senior class president, expressed the possibility of not all students having read the document as another factor for the discussion.

While the review of the compact was not done to signal anyone out in particular, the hope is that as members of Senate we can help guide other Dickinson students through the compact,” Wilson wrote. 

Butler and Wilson both referenced events which went against social distancing guidelines and took place on the weekend of Feb. 6th and 7th.  An email from Dickinson’s Office of the President on Friday, Feb. 12th stated that a student was asked to leave a residence hall for not complying with COVID policy.