As the Douglas County Positive Test Rate sits at 16.7%, I think about the university’s drastic increase in cases in the past two weeks.
But moreso, I have been thinking about the university’s response and transparency — or lack thereof. We have received no statements from the university regarding this sudden rise in cases and instead they have offered … prizes.
In the past two weeks, we’ve seen 79 and 60 cases, respectively (up from 38 and 29 the weeks before that).
This incline is concerning, and even more when considering the upcoming Halloween weekend where it is likely cases will spread swiftly.
Yet, we’ve received no indication from the university about plans to slow these potential oncoming waves.
Instead, we received a SLIC Newsletter Monday morning with a link that outlined a countdown to the end of the semester and a list of ways to enter drawings for items like AirPods, a weekly Starbucks gift card for spring and a $500 Bookstore gift card.
While these are considerable prizes, the methods to win these prizes feel like a vapid attempt to distract students, faculty and staff from the imminent threat of a pandemic on this campus.
Students can simply click a button to enter the raffle, receive a “recognition card” from a professor for following campus rules or can using the hashtag #FinishStrongCreighton on Instagram or Twitter.
In my previous article, I noted that “while it would be easy to suggest we continue on and finish the semester strong, that’s likely not a realistic way to tackle the weeks to come.”
I feel my words have come to echo even louder today.
I’ve never seen this level of exhaustion, depression and discouragement among the Creighton community.
Students are not only tired — they are physically, emotionally and economically drained. Faculty and staff are rightfully on edge about keeping both themselves and their students safe.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of this lack of response is that the student body has never been asked through any survey or otherwise both how they are handling the pandemic or what they think of the university’s response.
My biggest gripe with the university’s response is not actually the prizes, though I find the idea an apt symbol of the larger attitude on campus.
It often feels as though campus — students included — sees COVID-19 as some sort of game. I see students going out on Friday nights to pedal pubs, parties and more.
And yes, these students do need to wake up and realize that there is more at stake than their Friday night plans with friends — there are lives being threatened by these reckless actions.
That being said, in the face of the rise in cases and dwindling space at Omaha hospitals, Creighton has instead chosen to move forward with plans of reopening; the same day the information regarding 79 new cases was released, an announcement was made that the dining halls will be reopening with limited capacity.
Though it’s understandable that students can no longer eat outdoors due to colder weather, many news reports have been released that point to the escalating rate of positive cases has been linked back to indoor dining spaces at restaurants.
Though eating alone in a dorm room doesn’t sound like the most pleasant idea, I find it irresponsible to choose to offer larger spaces that could spread COVID-19 and threaten the staff and others who may work there.
I don’t think there is any right answer to moving forward in this pandemic.
We can only say “unprecedented times” so many times. I truly believe no one really knows how to handle the situation we find ourselves in.
I don’t envy the administration for trying to guide the university through a pandemic.
I can’t imagine the stress it faces, but I’m not sure silence, lack of listening or offering prizes rather than additional resources to promote students’ physical and emotional well-being is the best path to the end of the semester.
The best we can hope for is transparency from the university. Instead of rolling back safety precautions, serious conversations must be held about how to lower this increasing rate — and students should be a major voice in these.
Maybe it’s naive of me, but I think the student voice matters in a response that is truly reflective of the Bluejay “community.”