Before last week, all students residing on campus were required to test weekly for COVID-19. For those who failed to schedule their next test for a given week, Emory decreased their internet speed and blocked access to certain entertainment and social media sites.
Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, President Gregory L. Fenves announced that all on-campus students must now be tested twice a week, organized by their residence halls, adding on to the existing punitive measures for students who failed to schedule a test. There is no question that these restrictions on sites such as Amazon and Netflix incentivize students to keep up with the twice-a-week requirements. However, Emory should lessen restrictions for students who fail to attend their testing in a timely manner. Compounded by fewer on-campus events, strict health measures, and conflicts with jobs and internships, the unique circumstances of this year demand flexibility on the University’s part, especially since the process of receiving a test can be difficult.
Testing times make it challenging for some students to maintain a regular screening schedule. All of the five testing sites are only open sometime between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., so students with internships or jobs — on or off campus — may find it challenging to find time to get tested during business hours, another factor that adds to already demanding course schedules. Occasionally, this complication means being one day late to satisfying compliance.
New rules now dictate the days on which students can be tested based on their residence hall, which further hinders access. This arbitrary testing schedule disadvantages those who test on Tuesdays and Fridays because if they miss their Friday appointment, they no longer have the chance to make it and may lose their internet for an entire weekend.
Slowing internet access can stress students out and further harm their mental health, which is already suffering. Restricting social media access may lead students to feel as though the University is holding their free time hostage if they aren’t able to meet strict testing deadlines. The heavily restricted social scene on campus already limits opportunities for students to relax and find a balance between work and leisure.
Maintaining widespread testing compliance is crucial for the health and safety of the entire on-campus community, but it should not impinge on students’ access to adequate Wi-Fi and social media services. Indeed, implementing a one-day grace period for students to schedule their tests would demonstrate that the University understands the various challenges students must confront while navigating their rigorous schedules.
A world that has largely moved online cannot cut off those who rely on it. We can keep cases down and students properly connected to the internet without sacrificing either. Emory students are not delinquents for whom major threats are necessary; we are adults, and the University must treat us accordingly.
The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board. The Editorial Board is composed of Sahar Al-Gazzali, Brammhi Balarajan, Viviana Barreto, Rachel Broun, Jake Busch, Sara Khan, Martin Shane Li, Sophia Ling, Demetrios Mammas, Meredith McKelvey, Sara Perez, Ben Thomas, Leah Woldai, Lynnea Zhang and Yun Zhu.