Montclair State University students recently received an email from university administration threatening another campus shutdown. The email entitled “Is The Next Message You Want To Get: Pack Your Bags and Go Home?” sent on Aug. 25, 2020, was used once again on April 11, 2021.
The email states Montclair State rates of coronavirus (COVID-19) positive tests are rising because of students not following safety protocols. While the university administration blames its students for inclining rates, they continue to allow and promote campus tours, on-campus events for clubs and even a celebratory parade.
The hypocrisy is shameful and a complete disrespect to students already sacrificing so much.
The university has continuously tightened restrictions on their students since the pandemic began. While this is certainly necessary, the restrictions come off as punitive towards a community that seems to be doing its best to comply.
On Nov. 6, 2020, a “leaving campus waiver form” was sent out. Residents became required to ask permission to leave campus, go to work and even go to the grocery store, an action not well-received by the residential student body.
The most recent policy update forbade student residents from going to the grocery store altogether, regardless of permission to do so or having no symptoms of COVID-19. This is particularly detrimental to residents of The Village and Hawk Crossings, where students often opt out of meal plans to cook for themselves in their dorms with food and ingredients they purchase off campus.
If they are not allowed to go to the grocery store, they are forced to eat at on-campus locations, which causes an unnecessary financial burden to those who are equipped to eat in the safety of their dorms rather than in a public space like Sam’s Place or Freeman Hall.
As residential students are forbidden from leaving campus to buy food, dozens of high schoolers and their families continue to travel to campus for university tours. The only COVID-19 screening process for those visiting is the Hawk Check survey, a simple “yes or no” questionnaire which continues to have zero infrastructure for dealing with dishonest answers.
Additionally, campus organizations are still holding events on campus. Student Government Association (SGA) organizations are required to have at least one in-person event this semester in order to remain an SGA organization despite the pandemic and the concern of outbreak from administrators.
The safety protocols implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19 on campus must be upheld by all members of the campus community, including those implementing them. No one is exempt.
Instead of administrators blaming residential students, who are now barred from grocery shopping, maybe they should evaluate whether or not a parade on campus was necessary.
The parade was held in honor of Dr. Karen Pennington and her long, 22-year career at Montclair State as she retired earlier this month. Pennington’s legacy at Montclair State is abundant in passion and hard work and The Montclarion and the campus community commends her for her years of devotion to the student body and Montclair State.
However, the fact remains that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and a parade of dozens of faculty and staff members and permitted students does not do well to flatten the curve residents have been blamed for spiking.
Montclair State students have had their college experience completely dismantled because of COVID-19. While freshmen and sophomores anticipate a year or two of normalcy ahead, upperclassmen are left shortchanged of what was supposed to be the most academically and socially fulfilling years of their lives.
The administration is shifting blame to the wrong place as they make the resident community their scapegoats instead of acknowledging their own faults.
Montclair State needs to take accountability for its own role in the rise of positive tests and change its procedures regarding campus tours and events. Instead, administration needs to develop a system to protect residents that follow the rules without mass punitive action that places handcuffs on the wrong perpetrator.