By Taylor Viles – Sports Editor
In late March, a proposal presented by the Resident Assistants (RAs) was all but agreed upon to allow resident students to visit each other in on-campus housing. Following a perfectly timed COVID-19 outbreak on campus at the end of March into the beginning of April, the decision was then tabled
According to Associate Vice President & Dean of Student Affairs David Hennessey, “it just didn’t seem like a good time to increase the exposure,” he said. “We hit some of our biggest on-campus numbers, and the on-campus transmission was taking off at about the time that we were hoping to implement what the RAs had come to.”
The proposal would have been to allow each student to pick two friends to have in their room and they would act as a pod of three. This would make for easier contact tracing. The assumption was the students would already be in close contact with these friends regularly.
The proposal took close to two months to perfect since the idea began in January. Eventually, the RAs received tacit approval from the task force. Unfortunately, when it went for final approval by the Senior Management Team, the positive cases were beginning to rise.
“Being secluded to your room obviously isn’t fun, and everyone wants to be social,” said sophomore RA Spencer Fulone, one of the minds behind the proposal. “We definitely just wanted to take students’ mental health into consideration when proposing this just to make it easier on everyone and relieve some stress.”
Until this possibility, the only way students had been able to congregate as friends was outside and in common areas such as the Arnow Campus Center and the Science and Technology Center. This is because every positive student COVID-19 transmission recorded at Lasell has taken place between roommates, said Hennessey. “There have been none in class and none out in the street,” he said. “[It’s in rooms] where people are unmasked.”
Now, with the end of the semester closing in, tabling the proposal until the fall has become the sensical move. Hennessey explained the current goal has shifted to hosting successful Commencement ceremonies, of which there are three this May. “Those are our priorities now, to make sure that these classes get that,” he said. “We think that any sort of campus outbreak might endanger that. With a few weeks to go, and the ability of people to socialize a little bit more outside, we think this is the safest course to go in.”
Looking ahead to the fall, President Alexander’s recent email to the Lasell community detailed the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. Herd immunity will likely be reached and relaxing the on-campus restrictions will be possible including being able to return to each other’s rooms, said Hennessey. He said the number the university is looking for is 99.5 percent of the student body to be vaccinated.
Fulone acknowledges how hard this year must have been especially for first-years. “This hasn’t enabled them to have the freshman year that I’m sure they wanted,” he said. “Hopefully in the fall, though, they’ll be able to get the opportunities that they missed out on this year.”