Zeyad Anwar '23
The COVID Fear of Living on Campus
"BREAKING NEWS: BC Moves Classes Online, Requires Students to Leave Campus by Sunday" (March 11, 2020) I read off my phone as I was doing my laundry. My mind flooded with an array of questions left unanswered. It was devastating to see my freshman year come to a swift end, and I had no idea how to move out of college alone in less than a week. At that point, my emotions were all over the place. I felt frantic and confused, unaware of how I was going to get home. While many of my peers had the aid and resources of their families, I was left stranded and distraught. Luckily, with the help of my friends and professors, I was able to find my way back home. Now, sixmonths later, I find myself back at where I started, stranded and distraught.
Arriving in Boston, I looked around, and the city that once seemed to radiate with light and charisma was now dull and lifeless, like a ghost town. This feeling of lifelessness seemed to linger as I drove onto campus. As I was walking into Conte Forum to get tested, dragging my suitcases along, it dawned on me that this was the new "normal." My family had previously urged me not to return to campus, but I felt reassured of my safety due to BC's weekly emails. Now, I was reevaluating my decision. I felt like I was a stranger in a place that was once my home. As days passed, I became accustomed to this new environment. But, as classes started, I felt my anxiety brewing. Within the first week of the new "COVID semester," there were 26 positive cases, and Boston College did a poor job of communicating this news with the students and faculty. The University neglected their prime responsibility of maintaining clear communication throughout campus.
Every member at Boston College carries some sort of responsibility as we navigate the new era of COVID-19. As students, we must do our part in wearing masks and social distancing; but, the majority of the responsibility falls on Boston College as an institution. Much of what I see is guidelines being put forth regarding what should be done, but actions aren’t taken to reinforce or facilitate these guidelines effectively. The other day, as I was walking to class, I saw a group of students failing to wear masks, and no one said anything to them. I found myself further questioning my decision to return because I felt that I was not only endangering myself, but my friends and family. The University also reported that we had over 105 cumulative cases by the third week of the semester, yet it didn't feel like the University had a robust plan to address this high number of cases. We are falling behind many nearby universities that track and test their students three times a week, while BC struggles to test 1/3 of their students a week. During the current times in this unprecedented pandemic, testing is a vital responsibility, and the University needs to enforce and increase its testing on campus.
As a student, I feel that I lack the resources and experience to effectively manage my own health. A few days ago, my roommate and I developed sore throats, and we were terrified, thinking we had COVID and wouldn’t be able to take care of ourselves. It turns out we were just experiencing common colds. Nonetheless, we didn't have our parents or medication to help us get better. We were also terrified to go to the health center, fearing that we might get COVID-19, if we didn’t already have it. This made me reflect a little and I questioned myself: if I can’t deal with a sore throat, then how am I expected to deal with a whole virus and be forced to quarantine in a room alone? Ultimately, students are not as capable as the institution itself in creating a safe and healthy environment, and therefore need the University to lead the way. As a student at Boston College, I feel as though we are an experimental petri dish being tested on, and that our well-being is clearly not the top priority.
We are all in this together. It is not only about students. Everyone has to be made accountable, and clearly, BC has demonstrated they were not prepared to operate at full capacity. The school needs to engage in more comprehensible dialogue with its community. Not sharing news with their students and not acknowledging the situation that we're facing won't solve the problem. This is a pandemic that causes a lot of uncertainty; therefore, it is only together that we can solve this.
International Studies & Environmental Studies '23