Baylor needs to check itself before it causes more harm than good

Morgan Dowler | Cartoonist

One week from today, on Oct. 1, Baylor is scheduled to release an update on its COVID-19 testing protocols, and some things need to change.

As of now, students who are not fully vaccinated have to get tested twice a week, 48 hours apart, meaning they cannot be tested two days in a row. So, if a student waits until Thursday to take their first COVID-19 test, one test is already considered missing and the student is punished as such.

Miss one test, and you no longer have Wi-Fi on campus. Good luck taking online quizzes before class, submitting essays in Moody Memorial Library or even just checking your COVID-19 test results from anywhere on campus. Continue this trend, and you are removed from your regular place in the registration order and moved to the back of the line. If you’re a senior, be prepared to pay for another financially devastating semester of tuition because seats in upper-level classes are so hard to come by.

To be clear, the editorial board believes the vaccine is safe, and all students who do not choose to get it should be required to test. What we don’t believe, however, is that the consequences for missing a second test should be such drastic measures concerning students’ education.

Imagine being one semester from graduation and not being able to take the necessary classes to get a degree because you weren’t able to test twice one week. Whether something came up — or maybe you forgot given your already busy schedule — the fact remains that one slip-up shouldn’t hold this much power over your education.

Now, it’s true that some students may be skipping their COVID-19 tests on purpose or out of protest. In these instances, consequences are necessary in order to enforce testing protocols.

The best way for Baylor to handle this is to have a more gradual strikeout process. Last semester’s protocols had the right idea with no SLC access, then no Wi-Fi, but the threat of suspension or expulsion wasn’t played out, so the extremity that would make students comply was missing.

This semester, it’s quite the opposite. Two strikes and your education suffers immensely. If Baylor cares about your education like it say it does, don’t you think it would try to go down a few other avenues before taking away one of the most important things that can impact your future?

Speaking of your future, isn’t the whole point of college to prepare you for real-life circumstances? Show us one situation where if you mess up twice, your entire career is on the line.

Maybe start by removing eligibility for student tickets to the football games (which, by the way, are maskless and at full capacity, so it’s not like COVID-19 safety is top of mind there). Then, it could put students on probation in Baylor-sanctioned extracurriculars like Greek life, sports and clubs. If it’s still an issue after more than four missed tests in a row, then it is necessary to increase the weight of the consequences to the level they are at now.

Why go from zero to 100 so quickly? What is the end goal here? Because if it is really for the best interest of all students, then the COVID-19 testing protocols need to be seriously reconsidered before the announcement next week.

It is possible to both stop the spread of COVID-19 by enforcing testing in a way that works AND do what is best for students’ education. It’s not one or the other. Please keep this in mind moving forward and alter the way testing consequences are being handled so that students’ education is not disproportionately penalized for missing a minimal amount of COVID-19 tests.