Opinion: Our choice, not our fault

Staff writer calls students to rise to demands of COVID prevention

~Anna Thomas, Staff Writer~

My phone buzzed on Oct. 12 with what I thought would be another “Campus Update” email from Dean Kevin Hughes, addressing the status of our University and our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was at a gas station on my way back to school from a needed weekend trip home. I read the email, nodded my head, and put my phone in my back pocket. To me, it was just another reminder of expectations —it was just another Campus Update. 

The rest of my trip back to campus was filled with phone calls with friends complaining about what would later be known by students as Dean Hughes’s “No Subject Email.” I listened to my friends and I saw some of the tweets and, trust me, I understand the frustration. But I think we are targeting it in the wrong direction. A spike in positive COVID cases on campus is scary. I think many of us would agree that the threat to our college experience and the threat to our health puts us in dire circumstances that none of us signed up for. Including administration. 

The enemy isn’t the higher-ups of CNU. We’re fighting a virus, not each other. So I’m speaking on my own behalf, as a student. I’m calling attention to my own behavior. I find myself pointing my finger at administrators and policy when I know damn well that I’ve slipped up enough times to point the finger back on myself. I’ve taken my mask off, I’ve failed to distance, I’ve missed my daily screening before. We need to be honest with ourselves and face the truth that our actions are not without consequences, even if we don’t see it. 

Why should we shy away from accountability? The policies, whether we agree with them or not, have been set. It is our responsibility to keep our campus running. It is our responsibility to keep each other safe. The call to action is, for many of us, an overwhelming amount of pressure, on top of our regular student expectations. But, if I haven’t stressed this enough, this is a pandemic. Nothing is easy. Nobody is excused. I chose that pressure against the alternative of being locked away in my parents’ house. I need to rise to the challenge I accepted. Rise with me.

As a Resident Assistant, my boss has taught me and my staff a few words to get through challenging scenarios: “it’s not my fault”. This has never been more relevant to me. The virus is not our fault. This new lifestyle is not our fault. Safety is our responsibility, but a pandemic is not our fault. Sometimes we are beaten, but we didn’t ask to fight. If you are in isolation, if you are in quarantine, if you have tested positive, if you are anxious, if you are scared —please hear me: it’s not your fault.  Take these words as comfort and motivation. We can’t place blame — but we can’t give up. The pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to grace ourselves and each other with patience, not a break from trying. I know we’re tired but we have to keep running. We’ll get to the finish line together.

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