Students voice opinions over University’s handling of Covid-19

Many Baylor students that believe that the on-campus experience is still essential during the pandemic. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographer & Videographer

Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

COVID-19 safety has been Baylor’s focus. The university has sent out many emails and instituted protocol to slow the spread, but some students say they want more.

An editorial was published by The Lariat on Sept. 7 that caused controversy among the student body because of its critique of Baylor’s response to the coronavirus. The editorial called for Baylor to allow all students to have a choice to go all online for the rest of the semester if they felt unsafe on campus.

Denver, Colo., senior Sarah Asinof said she was disappointed in the editorial. In an email to The Lariat, she said the data that was used was misleading and did not show the whole picture.

“I agree that just because there aren’t many students who are immunocompromised doesn’t mean their lives don’t matter on campus. They do matter. I was impressed with the wording and mention of that argument because it’s 100% true. Regardless, Baylor emailed us in June their plan to get back on campus. They sent out many emails about electing all online classes if students didn’t feel comfortable returning. I know of one student who decided to do that and she is staying in California. In full transparency, I have yet to hear how that process worked and the consensus,” Asinof said in the email.

Many students have extenuating circumstances that may have caused them to not be able to take all online or a gap year, even if they are immunocompromised, Hoffman Estates, Ill., junior Zach Tufenkjian said.

“I think that giving students the option to go online right now would definitely help alleviate some of those concerns that some students have on campus, and especially safety concerns that they have,” Tufenkjian said.

Frisco freshman Isabelle Terry said she was not aware some students who were immunocompromised were rejected from taking all online classes. She was under the impression that Baylor would not deny someone online who was at high risk.

In general, Terry said she thinks Baylor is doing a great job keeping the students safe and that she has heard that for young adults, coronavirus is usually, though not always, mild.

“Of course just because it is not a huge deal for someone in our age group to get COVID does not mean we should not be cautious. We still need to think of our older professors and those who have compromised immune systems,” Terry said. “Fighting COVID is a group effort.”

Asinof said she tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the semester, and her professors were extremely understanding of her situation and allowed her to take it easy while sick. She also said someone from Baylor checked on her everyday to make sure she was doing OK.

The one criticism Asinof said she had was the way she was tested on campus. She expected it to be set up in a more isolated way so she wouldn’t spread it to anyone on campus.

“I parked my car and I had to walk … it’s not long by any means, but I passed probably 11 people in the parking garage alone in that stairwell, and then I went in the testing center. Like it was fine. They had it socially distanced, the line and everything, but I just was like, ‘I’m surprised they’re even having us come into a building. That can’t be helpful in the spread,’” Asinof said.

Tufenkjian said he is happy with what Baylor has done so far to keep students safe, but there is always room for improvement. He said not all the responsibility falls on Baylor. The students also have to choose to continue to follow the rules off campus.

“I think that’s troubling just because it shows two sides of our student body and our community because on one hand, when people are in class and around other people, they’re more subject to the rules and everything than when they’re around less people and you know, in their own community or in their own homes and in those other common areas and living spaces that they occupy the rest of the time,” Tufenkjian said. “I think that they get more comfortable and feel more relaxed with the guidelines and regulations and procedures and precautions that they should be following.”

Terry said she likes the Baylor University COVID-19 Dashboard, but she would like there to be more specific statistics.

“I wish they would show the breakdown of the students such as those living on campus and those living off campus and not just the cumulative cases,” Terry said.

Baylor did say that adding more information to the Dashboard is the plan once there is enough data to support it.

Asinof said even though this situation isn’t perfect, Baylor is doing a great job taking it seriously and letting the students know they mean business.

“I mean, they sent the email about like, expelling us, and that really did make a difference. I know that because I’m kind of involved in the fraternity sorority scene and I do get invites a lot. And I’ll say from firsthand experience, those invites stopped,” Asinof said.

The email about the Martin outbreak was a great form of communication, Tufenkjian said.

“Continued communication to the student body is also very important,” Tufenkjian. “Whether that be through Presidential Perspectives, whether that be through those news-class emails about outbreaks in certain dorms or certain communities, is definitely helpful.”