The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what being a Meredith College student looks like in many ways. One of these has to do with the residence policies and protocols that have been in place since Fall 2020. Although the guidelines have changed for the current semester, they are in many ways the same: for starters, off-campus visitors are not permitted in the residence halls or Oaks apartments until further notice.
Additionally, the Staying Strong section of Meredith’s website states that “overnight stays in residence hall rooms and Oaks apartments by other residential students (not assigned to the residential room or apartment), commuter students or other individuals are not permitted until further notice.” The main component that is different this academic year is that residents can now have a Meredith commuter student visit their room or apartment.
I want to begin by saying that these protocols have definitely been necessary, and I am not arguing that they should be removed completely. They have kept the Meredith community safe and healthy as this pandemic progresses, and will continue to do so. However, the College is seeing high vaccination rates, with students at 78% and employees at 79.4%. These are both quickly approaching the 80% threshold that President Joe Biden has been pushing the United States towards achieving ever since the vaccines were made available to the public.
Thus, this is my proposal: Meredith’s leadership should allow vaccinated members of the community to visit vaccinated students who live in Meredith’s residence spaces. Meredith residents would be required to submit a request for a visitor pass, and along with that, the guest’s proof of vaccination. In addition, residents would only be allowed to have one guest per resident in their room or apartment at a time. If any students choose to break these protocols, they would be subject to an Honor Code violation, similar to the mask protocols already in place.
Although the Delta variant proves to be increasingly contagious and harmful, the COVID-19 vaccines consistently prove themselves effective. Masks also work, and we know this. Together, the power of masks and vaccinations cannot be underestimated. We know more now, much more than we did when this pandemic began affecting our area in March 2020, and with this knowledge comes power. This power provides an opportunity to grant more freedom and privileges for Meredith resident students.
At the end of the day, it is up to Meredith students, faculty and staff to follow the Community Standards. As a part of the Meredith community, each one of us has a duty and an obligation to comply with the guidance. Therefore, students should be trusted with the responsibility to adhere to this change, so that they are able to receive a college experience full of safety and community in these ever-changing times.
By Hannah Porter, Opinion Editor