TAYLOR TRIMBLE, Staff Writer—Coming back to campus this semester, I had my concerns as COVID-19 had been spreading rapidly in various strains across the country.
Despite Denison’s high success rate in regard to the pandemic last semester, in my experience, many did not adhere to social distancing and other important health precautions. I became quite concerned that this upcoming semester would be difficult given the newer strains of the virus and the blatant lack of pandemic precautions.
I knew it would be challenging, but what I did not know is that I should have been more concerned about Denison’s handling of the virus than the virus itself.
My first full day on campus was focused on getting myself moved in and preparing myself for the start of the semester. As I was about to leave my dorm, my roommate had just arrived with her luggage. She and I are the type of people to bring our whole house to college.
So, it was a given she would need some help. Before asking me and our next-door neighbor for help, she had asked if we both had received our test results. Both of us were negative, or so we were told.
Our neighbor’s health badge, something you need to present to staff before entering dining halls, was not working so she had called Denison’s administration.
It was then that she was informed of an error on campus administration’s part; the reason she did not have her badge was that her COVID test was positive.
A mistake such as this is extremely detrimental to the campus’ health as my neighbor could have been around campus socializing and eating, potentially infecting several other people.
Furthermore, the fact that Denison did not do their due diligence to inform her of her positive status until she had called them is negligent of the entire college community’s health.
Barely an hour after, my roommate and I were in the back of a squad car being hauled off to the senior apartments that were designated as quarantine spaces. When we arrived, we noticed the conditions we would be living in.
Initially, we tried to remain positive, but the quarantine conditions made that difficult. The rooms had broken thermostats, making any chance of obtaining heat virtually impossible, with temperatures in the room usually hovering under 60 degrees.
The food service was dreadful from the ordering system to the actual food itself. We were given instructions to order food off Denison’s catering system with the option to make special requests if the items were available on the menu for the day.
The option to make special requests did not have much actual use, since everything my roommates and I requested never ended up being what we received.
Furthermore, the rationale behind the on-campus quarantine process is flawed. Denison puts several students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the same building where we all must go to the same area to pick up food at the exact same time.
In addition, people who may have been exposed to the same person who tested positive at completely different timelines could be placed in the same room as I was. This increases the risk to contract the virus from someone else who may not have initially tested positive, increasing the number of cases on campus.
Hundreds of students including myself have made a commitment to this university and this campus by signing the Community Care Agreement.
However, the administration cannot expect us to act accordingly if the same respect and commitment is not reciprocated. The mistake that happened to me, my roommate, and neighbor should not happen to anyone else.
The deplorable conditions in quarantine need to be fixed and the physical configuration and organization of quarantine needs to be re-thought.
If the student body can sacrifice their social lives and typical academic experiences to put the health of peers and administration before themselves then Denison University can and should prioritize us as well.
Taylor Trimble ‘24 is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Major from Chicago, Il.