Tea Time with Tagwa: There goes VCU dropping the COVID ball

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, surprise, surprise, VCU has dropped the ball, yet again. 

Today’s disappointment? Their handling of COVID-19 on campus. Listen, I won’t negate the stress that comes with trying to run a university during a pandemic. However, I have a brilliant idea: Do not allow socially hungry, 18-year-old college students onto your campus, then expect them not to see other people.

College is some of the best years of our lives. I’m a junior now and my first two years at VCU have been an abundance of excitement and entertainment. So, as I sit here and reminisce, it is impossible to not think of all the social events I attended. I promise you, there were more than 10 people there.

So, how can we expect these freshmen — whose only knowledge about college comes from other students and their television screens — to avoid all social interactions on campus? Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be condoning any partying or gatherings, but we will get to that in a second.

In my eyes, the best way to ensure students don’t go to parties is by prohibiting them from even coming to campus. VCU makes me laugh. How can you bring all these students together after they just lost their high school senior year and then be surprised when they all contract COVID-19? We should have never been brought back to campus in the first place. Perhaps if you weren’t more concerned with your next payday, we wouldn’t have 76 active cases among students and employees as of Tuesday, Aug. 25. 

And while we’re on the topic of active cases, why did it take you so long to create a database with case numbers? This isn’t a joke. I understand you have the tendency to hide vital information from your students like your tracking program and the bedbugs in Cabell, however, I’m not paying thousands of dollars just to be exposed to danger.

An unknown VCU student created a Twitter account to detail his/her experience after being wrongfully quarantined with active case students. 

“They moved me out the comfort of my room, put me in a suite with covid positive people next door, and gave me fucking snacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” tweeted the student.

It’s almost comical that when VCU does try to be helpful, they do it so wrongly that they endanger a student even more.

There’s so much to unpack in this tweet. First of all, the joke that is wrongfully isolating a student. I mean, did you even test him/her before you decided to throw them in a COVID-infested building? 

Furthermore, how are you giving students snacks as meals? These are people whose immune systems are compromised; they need healthy food options in order to regain their strength to fight off the virus you exposed them to. Not only are you providing snacks, but you’re making accommodations to dietary needs extremely difficult. My freshman year roommate and good friend, Haya Hamid, told me she requested a Halal meal during her quarantine period and it took far too long and too much work for her to receive it.

Now, I said earlier that we’d discuss freshman behavior and I’m back to do that. Freshmen, I understand you want a “real” college experience, but my safety and wellbeing will not be collateral to that. You need to stay home. The parties aren’t going anywhere. If you all manage to just follow safety guidelines for the allotted time that health professionals have shared, we can get rid of this virus.

One of you freshmen actually got on TV and admitted your ignorance. When asked if he was concerned that partying will put him at risk, he said: “No, it will. But, I want to party.”

It is so baffling how some people are so comfortable in their idiocy. Freshmen, parties are not worth your health. Believe me when I say, they are not that fun. They are not worth the sickness and danger that will follow. They are not worth risking the lives of others.

Speaking of risking the lives of others, VCU, do you plan on sending all these students home when you inevitably close the campus? It doesn’t make sense to send all these potentially sick students back to their hometowns only for them to get their families and towns sick. Notice how the cycle is starting to feel neverending? It all could’ve been avoided if you had just cared about your students more than their checks. Students should be obligated to stay in isolation in their dorms for two weeks and take a COVID-19 test before you send them home. And please don’t tell me that’s not doable because right across the city, University of Richmond did it.

I’m sure many of you are thinking that dwelling on the past does nothing, but it’s time to learn from past mistakes. When VCU continuously drops the ball, it’s only natural to wonder when they will start learning. Because from where I’m standing, VCU has trademarked disappointment. And that’s the tea.

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