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‘Don’t make us write obituaries’

A student-run newspaper that serves three higher education institutions in Indiana said administrators and their peers are responsible for containing the…

A student newspaper covering news from the University of Notre Dame (depicted), Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College begged school administrators to take the coronavirus pandemic more seriously. (Photo: Getty Images)

College students in Indiana implored their peers and administrators to act responsibly during the coronavirus pandemic, in a bold newspaper editorial titled, “Don’t make us write obituaries.”

The Friday critique was published by The Observer, the student-run daily paper that covers news across the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College in South Bend, Ind., all of which opened for in-person classes on Aug. 10 and have since battled COVID-19 infections.

The editorial suggested that school officials were blaming the infections on students attending off-campus parties, in a reported trend— according to ABC News, administrators at Iowa State University, Syracuse University and Oklahoma State University have reprimanded students for being “highly irresponsible” by throwing large gatherings.

“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,” read The Observer. “Clearly, they were not.”

It further called out fumbles in “testing, contact tracing and isolation and quarantine accommodations” and asked for better communication in regard to infections and hospitalizations. “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.”

The students acknowledged a role in spreading the virus: “We — as students, faculty, staff and administrators — need to share responsibility for the outbreak on our hands. We longed to return to South Bend while in quarantine last semester. Now, we are at risk of hurting the community we’ve come to know and love.”

On Tuesday, University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, who in May said that opening school was “worth the risk” in a New York Times story, suspended in-person classes until Sept. 2 due to 147 infections. “The virus is a formidable foe,” he said in a press release, pointing to off-campus parties as a main source of transmission. An updated university dashboard shows 336 positive cases since Aug. 3.

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In response to The Observer article, a Notre Dame spokesperson tells Yahoo Life, “… We have had no shortage of tests, and most students report satisfaction with isolation and quarantine arrangements.” The school has also boosted their contact tracing efforts which identified increases in positivity rates. “There were times when our health center phone banks were inundated, resulting in delays in returning calls to students,” said the spokesperson. “We resumed surveillance…

Elise Solé

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