OPINION: Dorm residents – quarantine yourself

Residence Life must enforce quarantine policies for COVID-19-positive residents



Cheery signs and a loose mask policy are not sufficient if we want to actually beat the COVID-19 pandemic at WSU.

FALLON LYTWYN, Evergreen web editor

Editor’s note: some names have been changed to protect identity

I had to learn the hard way to truly understand Housing and Residence Life’s hypocrisy. 

After getting COVID-19 recently myself, I found their handling of it to be disappointing on so many levels. ResLife is supposed to be a safe and rule-oriented environment and community.

ResLife is a learning experience and no one is perfect, but I do expect ResLife to follow health standards and regulations. They preach one thing but will do the exact opposite by not following the proper protocols.

If you test positive for COVID-19, Environmental Health and Safety reaches out to you and sends you to Gannon Hall to quarantine.

However, they do not follow up after they initially reach out to you and make sure you are actually following these instructions.

Genevieve Mecklem, freshman criminal justice major, recently came down with COVID-19 while living in the dorms. 

“When my roommate and I had it, they didn’t give us any direction,” she said. “They just told us to stay in our rooms as much as we could and to wear masks when we left the room.”

Mecklem said that no quarantining guidelines were given. 

Most of the residence halls on campus have communal bathrooms. These bathrooms are usually shared between roughly 50 people, depending on the dorm.

“I think living in the dorms during COVID is hard since you are living with so many people it can spread so fast,” Mecklem said.

The bathrooms are only one communal space that residents have to share. They also do laundry together, eat together and, of course, share rooms with multiple people.

Sophomore journalism major Sam Rogan* expressed concern for the safety of the residents who live in the hall where they work as a resident advisor.

“Environmental health and safety told [my resident] that they don’t really care about quarantining people because everyone’s gonna get it anyway,” Rogan said. “You might as well get it over with.”

This is why I believe ResLife to be hypocritical and damaging. They do not care about the safety of other people. 

On Jan. 28 alone, Whitman County reported 206 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 8,355 cases in total, 479 hospitalizations and 85 deaths according to Whitman County Health.

Yet, ResLife still does not think it is worth it to make sure residents are quarantining? 

Parents send their children to WSU thinking that their child will be safe; then, the very place where they pay thousands of dollars for their child to live refuses to enforce the proper safety precautions to protect them.

We need to be safer and do better. Obviously, I do not have all of the solutions, but the first step is admitting that our system is flawed. Proper quarantine protocols must be enforced for residents who test positive for COVID-19.

This starts with Environmental Health and Safety emailing or calling each resident who tests positive and giving them clear directions for the next steps in quarantining, then following up and actually enforcing those protocols. 

Giving up on health and safety because “everyone is going to get it anyway” is not a policy. Dorm residents deserve to be healthy and safe, and this small step is a good start to keeping them that way.