Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Since the first day of classes, positive COVID-19 cases among TCU students have risen from 13 to more than 200.
Inviting all students back was like laying the kindling for a fire and crossing your fingers that it wouldn’t light.
The university spent months building a plan for a “connected campus” where masks would be worn and only small groups would gather, and then college students returned and began acting like college students. Can we blame them?
Reports of off-campus parties came as no surprise to students and shouldn’t have come as such to university administration, either.
Students have received emails warning them against attending parties and being in large groups, yet they have not faced consequences for ignoring the bolded phrases written in those messages.
The inaction seems to represent the main strategy of the administration over the past few months – to just act like everything is normal. From the size of the tuition bill to the number of students living in the dorms, they have done everything they can to put on a display of normalcy.
Their failure to disincentivize students from gathering in large groups cannot be ignored as cases surge. Blaming students for gathering together when they are placed within a mile of their friends can only go so far. University decision-makers must also be held accountable for their decisions.
As seniors, we understand this temptation to celebrate with friends we haven’t seen since March. We understand how easy it is to behave as we would at the beginning of any other school year, at a university whose administration is trying as much as possible to simulate a normal college experience.
And we also understand that if we gather in large groups or fail to wear masks, the opportunity to be on campus goes away — for everyone.
If the case numbers continue to increase as rapidly as they have, classes may be transitioned to a fully online format. TCU would join the list of universities across the country that have abandoned or postponed plans for in-person instruction — UNC, Notre Dame and Michigan State, to name a few.
First-year students who are just getting settled may have to move back home. Football season may be canceled. The normalcy that we want so badly to return may be gone.
We’re anxious – and we’re nervous. We love TCU and we want to stay. And we think you do, too.
So we’re asking everyone to be more responsible. Students, please don’t party. Please wear your masks. And administration, hold us accountable when we selfishly put our short-term enjoyment before the well-being of our community.
Do what you can to help us spend our final year at TCU in Fort Worth.