A take on COVID-19 restrictions at W&L

A fog of frustration surrounds campus as regulations prevent a transition back to normalcy

Victoria Ernst

That’s how many days it has been since March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Who knew that it would still affect our lives to this day. 

Coming from New York, where the COVID-19 restrictions were pretty much as strict as you could get in the United States, I was extremely excited for COVID-19 to be virtually a thing of the past. To my disappointment, I pretty much feel like I’m stuck in the North. 

Perhaps I am being too picky and ungrateful. Yes, I am so thankful that my classes are in person, that I am able to have an impactful education and social experience, and that I can participate in clubs and athletics. I do realize that the circumstances in previous years were much worse for students. But certain rules here seem pointless. Why was I forced to be vaccinated just to wear an uncomfortable mask that itches my nose and fogs up my glasses while I’m trying to read my professor’s PowerPoint? 

98% of the students here are vaccinated. Although the vaccination does not guarantee immunity, the possibility of vaccinated young adults being hospitalized due to the virus is extremely low. According to the university COVID-19 update email from Sept. 16, “our local and regional hospitals are at or above capacity.”

However, there should not be a concern for the hospitalization of students who are vaccinated. As for roughly five percent of students who are unvaccinated due to religious or other outstanding reasons, they are completely aware of the risks associated with contracting COVID-19, and being unvaccinated was their prerogative. They should be respected for their prerogative; however, their decision should not penalize other students. 

One of the most irksome COVID-19 rules on campus is without a doubt the fitness center regulations. The online sign up for the fitness center is absolutely atrocious. Too many students sign up for a time slot and don’t show up, thus stealing a time slot from another student who could have potentially gone that day. Sounds like an honor code violation to me! In addition, the zero-tolerance masking policy is frankly outlandish. I see too many students who are mid-sprint or mid-pulling 300+ pounds while their mask slides down. Consequently, they are castigated by a fitness center employee; some are even forced to leave. Let them finish the rep! Let them finish the last sprint! They know they’re not supposed to have their mask below their nose. It takes fifteen minutes for an unmasked individual to contract COVID-19 when in contact with an infected individual. Give them five seconds and they will fix it, it won’t kill anyone! 

They say life is a movie. I don’t remember auditioning for a mediocre science fiction film. And I’m sure that many students here agree with me. I hope, for the sake of the community, that the COVID-19 restrictions will dissipate and eventually disappear, bringing us the true college experience we both desire and deserve.