Concerns from the college about on-campus students leaving for the weekend

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Photo: Hannah Steyn

Hannah Steyn, Special Assignments Reporter

As the semester has progressed, a commonplace for students so far is to pack up belongings to leave campus for the weekends. This results in some slight concern as to safety in regard to COVID-19.

The why of this can only be speculated, but according to Junior Jessica Spence, the general assumption is that with very few social events and parties happening on and around campus, and with students not being allowed guests, students are leaving campus to seek social interaction where they are not likely to be punished for it.

“I think we all miss having a social life, and things to look forward to,” Spence said. “Even going home to family is more favourable than being alone in your dorm room for another weekend.” 

Spence adds that if her home were closer, she too might be inclined to spend her weekends there rather than staying on campus.

Vice President for Emergency Management Shad Crowe said there is concern over students traveling, but it’s something that currently cannot be prevented. Notifications from the Governor’s Office at New York State worried that the college’s positive coronavirus cases are resulting from interactions off-campus, or from student traveling in general.

“Of course, the college is concerned about the travel and safety of our entire campus,” Crowe said. “But the school cannot prevent students from leaving or traveling.”

Crowe states that it is required for all students who plan to travel to fill out the UC Travel Form and encourages all students to travel responsibly and keep the college up to date on any possible COVID-19 risks.  

Additionally, Crowe said if Utica College officials are made aware of the fact that a student, faculty member or staff traveled to a state that is considered high risk, they are required to take a rapid test and show negative results before being allowed to return to campus.

“As it stands today, we do not have a policy that prevents students from leaving campus on the weekends,” said Scott Nonemaker, interim dean of students at Utica College. “It is concerning, because not all students make us aware of their travel plans and with the new COVID surge occurring, there could be implications to campus if our students are not careful.”

Nonemaker adds that if all students remain vigilant with social distancing, mask wearing and washing their hands, the risk will be lessened. However, he warns that no one should ever assume that the other people they are with are COVID free, as many people are asymptomatic and are not aware that they are infected.

At the moment, Crowe said it’s hard to tell whether or not new policy will be created to set a limit on student travel going forward.

“There is little we can do without a solid partnership with our students, staff and faculty,” Crowe said. “We will continue to rely heavily on the tremendous accountability and level of responsibility demonstrated by our students.  Because without responsible behavior from students – the largest population on campus – we would not be here.”

According to Nonemaker, it’s hard to say what the future holds, but ultimately, all decisions that are made will be made to keep UC students, faculty and staff as safe as possible.  


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