By: Maria Giovanna Jumper
Only three weeks into the semester, despite precautions, the university was already dealing with five positive cases of Covid-19 due to an off-campus party. On Wednesday September 16, Sentwali Bakari, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, sent an email detailing the issue. Over 20 Adelphi students had attended an off-campus event, which had no affiliation with Adelphi University. Since then five students have tested positive and another 16 have been quarantined.
The university has opened up an investigation. The event was in contradiction to the New York state health guidelines, the university’s social distancing protocols and the Pledge to Protect.
Bakari stated in this email, “While this incident has been brought under control, it should serve as a warning to all who think they do not need to adhere to the rules or who believe that this virus cannot reach them. It can, and it will, if we do not respect the guidelines created to allow us to return to campus this fall.”
Bakari added that according to campus contact tracing, no other students were put at risk because of this event. Any individuals deemed to have been in close contact with those who tested positive were told immediately and the correct precautions taken.
Between testing requirements and self-reporting these positive cases surfaced within days of the event. However, since campuses have re-opened, nearly 300 universities have had to move back to online learning across the country. Will Adelphi be next?
Bakari said, “With great confidence I say that none of us want this to happen to Adelphi.”
Yet, if students continue to act recklessly and attend off-campus events this ideal will surely not be realized.
“It took months of intense work to get where we are, and it will take the cooperation of each of us to keep our campus community safe,” Bakari said. “Quite simply, it is not fair that the careless and selfish actions of a few have the ability to undo what we have all worked so hard to achieve.”
Samantha Napoli, class of 2021, said, “I originally felt safe with the precautions being implemented, but after a major scare with one of my roommates who we thought was exposed (thank goodness she turned out to not be exposed) I no longer feel safe living on campus.”
Napoli continued, “I realize how quick safety can change and I truly hope I’m not putting my family at risk by being here. I contemplated leaving campus to take classes at home but decided against it since cases are low. Although I feel that Adelphi is doing what it can, we are not truly safe. The Covid tests don’t check for antibodies and only determine whether or not you have Covid at the time of the test. The daily Covid questionnaire proves nothing, as one can easily lie, and there is no knowing who enters the residence hall during the day when no attendants are on duty. It is a constant stress in the back of my mind as to whether I’m safe or not.”
Bakari said, “It can be challenging to regulate students’ behavior and activity when they are not on campus.”
The university plans to continue to educate students on the consequences of their actions. They will also continue to send out Rave Alerts, e-mails, signage and other communication about how to stay safe and protect our campus community.
“The surveillance team has determined that more frequent testing will be conducted of at-risk groups,” said Nicole Guadino, the director of Health Services.
According to Guadino, the staff is adamant that student safety can be ensured and quality assurance is attributed to the thermal scanners in residence halls, mandatory masks, increase in hand sanitizer stations, reduced capacity of classrooms, installation of plexiglass/barriers, safety ambassadors, Covid-19 symptom tracker app, on-campus flu vaccines, as well as a confidential reporting process to those not following campus/public health guidelines.
The administration also has continued to remind students that their actions on and off campus are subject to the code of conduct and they can face consequences for ignoring safety protocols off campus. Even so, some students are wary.
“I work at the Center for Recreation and Sports, but I will not be returning when it reopens this semester,” said Gabbi Cisneros, class of 2021. “Although I trust the pro-staff to take proper precautions to keep us employees safe, there is still too much of a risk.”
Cisneros continued, “What if someone goes to an off-campus party and then comes to the gym the next day? As a diabetic with a compromised immune system, it’s completely not worth it. Overcoming Covid-19 is truly a group effort, and incidents like this [the off-campus party] are just a rude reminder that we won’t be safe until everyone complies.”