The following reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board.
Miami University implemented mandatory arrival COVID-19 testing for all students either attending in-person classes or living on campus. All students who participated in testing, plus those who tested positive recently enough to have the virus antibodies, were given a card that acted as proof of getting tested.
Unfortunately, that’s all the cards prove.
They don’t mean that a student, now, in the month of February, does not have COVID. They don’t protect students or faculty in any way. And students were given the cards right after getting tested, which means they didn’t even know their results yet. They could’ve walked out of the testing center infected with COVID but wielding a crisp, new COVID card anyway.
Any student on campus can be asked to show their card at any time by staff, professors and administration.
But this whole situation feels like it’s aimed more toward fostering a positive narrative around the university’s handling of the virus than it is to increase anyone’s safety. And we know Miami loves a good PR stunt.
Not to mention, these cards mean nothing after Wednesday, unlike the virus which will continue to plague our community. So, why not come up with a better plan? We have an entire semester stretching ahead of us, and the pandemic isn’t over yet. As such, we need action steps that make sense and will benefit our community.
We suggest testing everyone weekly rather than the random and sporadic selecting of certain students, which might not catch everyone even with the use of contact tracing.
The idea to arrival test all students attending in-person classes, whether they live on campus or not, was a great one that allowed thorough data collection and safety. We applaud the university for organizing and implementing this.
But as we mentioned, the cards basically mean nothing and seem to only contribute to an uncomfortable social dynamic between students and university employees.
It’s surface level, ineffective and uncomfortable. The ideal way to move forward would be to stop with the cards, continue with consistent testing and come up with a better way to keep professors and students feeling safe. There’s also an app, Campus Clear, that provides contact-tracing and testing data that the school could mandate students to download.
This app doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of students’ minds, but it ought to be. Though some of us might forget to carry a paper card around, our phones — and by extension, our apps — are usually within reach.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
By implementing weekly testing and mandating students to keep track of their tests and results on the app, we can attempt to move through the semester in an educated fashion, prioritizing individual accountability.
The vaccine isn’t coming within the near-future, but let’s do our best to handle this with responsible grace until we can truly have a safe campus.