On-Campus Housing Regresses to Phase Zero


Written by: Connor Betterly

“There’s a COVID detection system for outgoing water, but none for incoming water. Better safe than sorry!” said the Housing Director.
Photo by Sharon Roth

Yesterday morning, HDH announced in an email to campus residents that coronavirus cases were still dangerously high, and the campus would be moving further backwards to Phase Zero.

In the past, Phases One and Two communicated whether on-campus housing residents were required to wear masks in the common areas of their residences. Now, Phase Zero requires residents to wear masks at all times in their buildings, now encompassing eating, drinking, showering, and sleeping. Residents that are fully vaccinated are required to test daily, and residents that remain unvaccinated must test every four hours. The Phase Zero notice also strongly encourages the wearing of HAZMAT suits in any areas where residents have the potential to come into contact with other people, claiming, “Technically, all materials have the potential to be hazardous. You should be wearing this thing 24/7.”

These policy changes are unlikely to have a substantial effect, as students are expected to ignore the rules en-masse. “How will we enforce this? Oh – we won’t!” said the director of HDH in a press release. “We really just want to focus on making the lives of good, rule-following residents as miserable as possible. The part about encouraging the HAZMAT suits? That was actually a joke suggested by our lawyers! Something to do with liability, I think. But then the bookstore and Target both sold out! I honestly cannot believe the lengths that college students are willing to go to in order to stay safe – back in my day, we scarcely wore protection at all!”

First-year Edicta Revere is “the exemplification of a rule-following student,” and even she describes feeling demoralized at times, seeing other students blatantly disregarding the rules and trying hard to follow them herself. “I’ve been with them the whole time, wearing a surgical mask (to protect others) beneath an N95 mask (to protect myself ), testing all the time, and I even went out and bought a HAZMAT suit this week,” said Revere. “Meanwhile, my fellow students are getting away with uncountable transgressions. As Lincoln is commonly paraphrased, ‘The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.’ And yet this is not happening! I’m unbelievably disheartened with these policies.”

There is one visibly enforced provision to the Phase Zero restrictions. At all buildings with elevators, an RA is now stationed at the ground floor to ensure that only one student rides at a time. “This is a disappointing change,” began one student from Seventh College. “I haven’t seen the stairs this packed since the last fire drill. And with everyone breathing heavily as the floor numbers climb, it might even be less safe.” The student fell silent after a few fellow residents cried, “Silence, heretic! Do not question the housing director!”

Even in the face of all of these regulations, some residents continue to express cautious optimism for the future. Second-year Justus D. Leighed said, “While I’m a bit dismayed with this step backwards, I’m still holding out hope that by the spring, we can reach the mythical Phase Three – one in which I’m permitted to simply have my friend over for dinner from the room down the hall.”

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