It has been a week for UNC, huh? Thanks to the best student paper in the country and a plethora of student activists publicizing their mistakes at every turn, the University has quickly become one of the nation’s foremost examples of a campus reopening gone wrong in the time of COVID-19. After the original plan to accelerate the semester and avoid a second wave failed due to the first wave not having subsided, the school announced on Monday that all classes would be shifting online start Wednesday, but that students would still be allowed to live on and near campus — paving the way for football and other fall sports to continue on without raising the feared “student-athlete” question.
It has been transparent for a while now that every school in the country trying to reopen is doing so in the interest of money, whether it comes from TV networks, tuition and fees from students and families being led to expect something near normalcy, or a combination of the two, and when it’s all said and done, students and others will die as a result of this refusal to look past the bottom line. The UNC Board of Governers has spat in the face of logic, medical advice from the best public health program in the nation, and basic empathy, then gaslit students and observers into thinking that it’s the fault of some socially starved 18-22 year olds (many of whom are sharing bathrooms anyways) that classes can’t be held on campus, rather than the truth, which is that it was inevitable just given how people work. While some students have been irresponsible, every member of the BOG who voted for this plan (and every other college decision-maker in the country pressing forwards with on-campus presence) was irresponsible in making it.
But to their credit, the UNC football team seems to be doing everything right in pursuit of starting their season on time in September. A cluster of positive cases among athletes spurred a pause in practice time from Wednesday until Saturday, but according to Bubba Cunningham, the football program hasn’t had anybody test positive since the reported rash of positive tests in July. Because of this, they, along with men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross-country, and field hockey have all been cleared to return to action starting today, according to UNC’s social media:
This seems to indicate that a) positive cases didn’t come from any of these teams, and b) the extended time off was probably to test everybody on these teams and others who had shared facilities with those who did test positive as well as sanitizing those facilities. It’s probably too soon to know the results of recent tests without the risk of false positives (unless UNC has access to saliva tests that they’re not telling us about), but this looks like a good sign for the football program and the others’ disciplined isolation so far. As we march inexorably towards a college football season, we can only hope that the UNC team, and others, continue being more vigilant than the people making decisions. With campus activity down to summer levels thanks to the unexpected shift to online, at least that isolation is going to be easy. The question of ethics, however, remains unanswered...