“Don’t make us write obituaries”
This was the headline on the front page of The Observer, a student newspaper serving the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College campus communities Friday morning.
The editorial called out the administrations of the institutions in the tri-campus area for failing to adequately keep students and community members safe when officials intended for students to come back to campus this fall.
Notre Dame is the same institution that saw its football program shut down practice for two consecutive days this week after five players tested positive for COVID-19 and another six players were put into quarantine.
Head Coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week that he had a plan to replace players who tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the season.
The students’ editorial doesn’t explicitly call for football to be canceled. However, the lack of oversight and proper testing procedures that are highlighted in the article illustrates a campus environment that is not ready to host live sports.
“Flaws in testing, contact tracing and isolation, and quarantine accommodations have since proven inefficient. At Notre Dame, the almost two-week gap between the return to campus and the implementation of surveillance testing, scheduled to begin today, represents a gross oversight on the part of the administration and has put the health and safety of the tri-campus and South Bend communities in serious danger,” said The Observer.
“The University administration has largely blamed the COVID-19 outbreak on students attending off-campus parties. While this isn’t entirely misplaced, it has been used to deflect responsibility from the very administrations that insisted they were prepared for us to return to campus. Clearly, they were not.”
It’s always great to see that student journalists are already adopting their roles in society on their particular campus: speaking truth to power, especially in times that desperately need it.
The University of North Carolina recently issued its own criticism of their respective institutions COVID plan. The Daily Tar Heel called their campus situation a “clusterfuck” after four different groups consisting of five or more positive cases showed up in separate parts of campus during the school’s first week back. As they so succinctly stated, “We all saw this coming.” Of note, that means the students, not the adult administrators. The students themselves admitted that students gonna student: “University leadership should have expected students, many of whom are now living on their own for the first time, to be reckless.”
Imagine that. Honesty.
“If we’ve learned anything in the past months, it’s to take nothing for granted,” said The Observer editorial. “The expectation that everyday life will continue as it always has can no longer exist.”
While it’s admirable to see the voices of these students being broadcast far and wide from their campuses, it is just as concerning to see the “grown ups” in higher education continuously willing to put students and others at risk simply for the chance to make a few more dollars this semester.
The same goes for these conference commissioners, athletic directors, and coaches who still want to cash out on the backs of these student-athletes, but gloss over the obvious risks that every athlete will be forced to take if they choose to play again this season.
Heart complications from COVID-19, have already prompted football players around the country to sit out the season.
Many programs are not even allocating resources to daily testing, which is the first common-sense step to getting back to college sports this year.
These collegiate newspaper staffs are providing us with a sobering view of these campuses protocols and bringing these atrocities to light.
In other words, they’re doing their jobs.
Notre Dame admin and the surrounding universities should start doing theirs: listening to the concerns of the students who are speaking their truths from their “on the ground” perspective:.
“Don’t make us write an administrator’s obituary. Don’t make us write a custodian’s obituary. Don’t make us write a dining hall worker’s obituary,” The Observer editorial stated. “Don’t make us write a professor’s obituary. Don’t make us write a classmate’s obituary. Don’t make us write a friend’s obituary. Don’t make us write a roommate’s obituary.
Don’t make us write yours.”