In honor and memory of Meredith College. Masks lay discarded on our walkways, the residence halls are overgrown and bare, the winds whistle through the breezeways. This campus was once full of life, but is now desolate and silent. There is no more Cornhuskin’ or nights spent with your friends in front of Meredith’s front fountain.
This isn't what our campus looks like yet, but is what we could become. Two weeks into our semester, we have already seen many students posting photos of themselves and others without masks in places where masks are required. Meredith’s community guidelines clearly state that “other than in photo/video shoots approved by Meredith College, individuals included in group photos should wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.” On Instagram, a new account has been created called @MCNoMask. The page reposts photos in which students are not wearing masks and those posted on the page have their faces obstructed with clearly photoshopped masks. However, individuals are still easily identifiable to those within the Meredith College community. But what about those who walk among us who haven’t posted their maskless photos? The safety of our whole campus community is at risk.
Meredith College’s administration has taken a lot of the vital steps necessary to keep us on campus. They have put policies in place and made students aware of the new additions to the Community Standards and what can occur if you are caught violating them. Meredith College requires that students must report any exposure to a known COVID-19 positive individual, and additionally must immediately report if they have any symptoms to the Student Health Center. Not reporting is a violation of Meredith’s Community Standards. Meredith is also requiring all employees, students and other community members to use face coverings when in common areas, especially when physical distancing of six feet or more cannot be maintained, with few exceptions. It is important to note that face coverings do not substitute for physical distancing. Meredith also released a message on Aug. 13 regarding updates to face covering requirements. This was in response to a study at Duke which proved the ineffectiveness of certain types of face coverings. According to this message, “gaiter or bandana style face coverings are the least effective, so please do not consider this style an appropriate option.”
Meredith students have also received several emails detailing the consequences of not following the Community Standards. In her email to the Meredith community on Friday, Aug. 21, Vice President Jean Jackson emphasized that students can “face sanctions from the Community Standards Task Force or Honor Council—ranging from warnings to fines to having to leave classes, on-campus living, and being on campus at all.” These certainly aren’t light punishments and it seems the college is prepared to pursue these consequences if necessary.
The responsibility of following the Community Standards does not lie with just one party. We as students, faculty, staff and administrators need to start showing genuine care and concern for others before we have an outbreak on our hands. Last spring, many of us longed to return to our Meredith College home and we mourned the loss of traditions and big achievements. Now that we have returned, we are responsible for the health and safety of all those on our campus.
I respectfully ask the members of our Meredith College campus to follow community guidelines and respond to this virus in an appropriate and serious manner. Otherwise, I fear that we may soon have to return home and our dreams of a Meredith College experience will be squandered. As a journalist at Meredith, I want to write more about the events and activities happening on campus, not about how certain groups of people are repeatedly risking the health of our entire campus community so they can go out and not follow community standards.
Don’t make me write about a faculty member’s disregard for Community Standards.
Don’t make me write about a Resident Assistant’s disregard for Community Standards.
Don’t make me write about your or your friends’ disregard for Community Standards.
Don’t make me write a piece about being sent home again.
Most importantly, don’t make me have to write an In Memoriam for anyone in the Meredith community.
By Rachel Van Horne, News Editor
This piece was inspired by The Observer’s editorial, “Don’t Make Us Write Obituaries,” which was published on Aug. 21, 2020