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UW-Madison Students Need To Act Like Adults

September 10, 2020

Like many others in Madison, and across Dane County, I called for the UW-Madison to conduct only virtual classes this fall. While I love the bustle of the city when filled with students, enjoy the energy of an election season on campus, and learn from the speakers who make appearances there is also the fact we are in a national pandemic. The health of the staff, students, and the city in which we live are of prime importance.

There have been some moves by the university administration to stem the spread of the virus but when the facts are looked at, as reported in the Wisconsin State Journal, they show why it resembles more a slice of Swiss Cheese than anything the residents of this city can find comfort in when reading.

While university testing data show more than double the number of cases came from students who live off-campus compared to those in dorms over the past week, Blank said the latest numbers also show a sharp increase in cases at two residence halls.

While the goal is to bring case numbers down with this quarantine, pausing face-to-face courses would likely not make much of a dent. Blank acknowledged that contact-tracing hasn’t revealed evidence of transmission in the classroom. Still, out of an abundance of caution, she ordered an end to in-person classes through at least Sept. 25.

With the off-campus students being responsible for a large swath of the positive cases and 46 separate outbreaks linked to the UW, and Public Health Madison reporting that at least 74% of the new COVID-19 cases since September 1 have come from the UW all underscores one troubling central fact. Too many of the students who have the aptitude to take classes at the UW do not have the adult skills required to be on campus.

As part of the attempt to curb the outbreak on campus two of the largest dorms are quarantined for two weeks. One might hope a lesson would be learned from this action. But I am dubious.

Being in college is not just about tasting freedom for the first time as an adult. Drinking and partying may be fun, but when it runs counter to the needs of the greater community during a pandemic a price needs to be paid. In other words, act like adults, and then you will be treated as such. Otherwise you will be treated as children.

There is a big dose of responsibility that comes with being an adult. True, most college experiences push off that realization for several years, but this is a most unique and challenging time in our nation. It requires prioritizing one’s life. Either adapt to the new norms in this pandemic or lose your adult privileges.

And so it goes.

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