The Gatepost Editorial: Shift your priorities

“To (safely) be here, it takes all of us.” 

Those words are plastered around campus and included in every COVID-19-related email sent in the past few months. But, it seems students and employees alike are not taking those words to heart.

Our community can only operate successfully when everyone follows the COVID-19 related rules set in place by our administration. When those rules aren’t followed, our ability to continue educating and learning safely goes awry. 

One of the rules put in place this semester – during such unprecedented circumstances – is that no parties or large group gatherings are allowed. 

We get it. Having a social life is an important part of the college experience and we feel the same way you do.  We want nothing more than for students to enjoy hanging out with friends, attending classes, and diving into student activities on campus. 

But now is not the time to push boundaries and question protocols put in place by our administration to keep us safe. Life can’t return to normal until COVID-19 has been eliminated by a vaccine.

If people wore masks, socially distanced, and washed hands, they wouldn’t get COVID-19. It’s as simple as that.

In order for us to maintain campus activities, including living on campus, we must all agree to work together toward enforcing safety protocols to ensure that COVID-19 is eradicated from campus.

However, this can’t be done if people are behaving irresponsibly.

There are credible and definitive reports of student parties happening on and off campus.

When we see videos and photos of students on social media not following these three simple rules, it becomes obvious there are people in our community who don’t take the severity of this pandemic seriously. 

Those who think it is OK to host or attend parties aren’t holding themselves and others accountable. 

On campus, positive test rates must be kept under 2%, and while there are factors limiting transmission of the virus – such as mandatory testing, a campus-wide mask mandate, and only 15% of classes being held in person – this doesn’t mean everyone is immune to contracting COVID-19. 

While we have a smaller community this year with only 790 students living on campus and 1,226 students attending class in-person, it is still imperative that everyone follows the basic COVID-19 guidelines set in place by the CDC. 

No one is safe from the virus. All it takes is one careless action – intentional or unintentional – to put yourself, your peers, faculty, and staff at risk. 

For students, this means that you should not be attending parties, whether they are in a dorm, outside, or off-campus. 

There is absolutely no excuse for risking the lives of those around you because you want to selfishly indulge in socializing with your peers in ways that are not socially distanced. 

However, the weight of following safety protocols should not be placed solely on students’ shoulders as our campus population is not composed only of students. 

While our administration believes self-policing and holding one another accountable is adequate protection, it is not a replacement for devising serious consequences for those who violate safety protocols.

It is unfair to assume that students can always police themselves. 

Although the employees of Framingham State have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to establish safety protocols and procedures, enforcing those policies is both more challenging and important than ever.

Whose job is it to hold people responsible for breaking the COVID-19 rules?

We understand that students must be accountable for their actions, but our administration must respond vigorously to those not following safety guidelines. 

There is more to be done by our administration than just posting flyers around campus or sending weekly testing update emails. As students, we see the parties and gatherings happening.

What we don’t see is those involved facing consequences for putting our community in danger. 

And it’s not just students who deserve accountability from our administration. Faculty members teaching on campus need to know if they are endangering themselves and their communities when they travel to FSU. 

How would you want to learn that students in your class attended a large gathering? Would you rather find out on social media, or from your administration with a guarantee those students are being held accountable for their actions?

Students and faculty deserve better than current expectations and consequences.  

We need humility, honesty, straightforwardness, and a policing strategy from our administration. We need clear consequences if someone attends a large party. 

And we need accountability from our fellow students, too.

Most importantly, we need transparency all around.

To be at Framingham State safely, it takes all of us working together: students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

All it takes is one of us not prioritizing safety for the campus to shut down again and all of us to go home early.