The University of North Carolina’s student newspaper is accusing the school of creating a coronavirus “clusterf–k’’ by pushing to return kids to campus — only to have to reverse course within days amid outbreaks.
In a blistering editorial published in the Daily Tarheel on Monday, the writers said, “We all saw this coming” — but the administration was too busy treating students like “cash cows’’ to pay attention as it gambled with lives.
“One thing’s for sure — [their] roadmap leads straight to hell,’’ the editorial said of school officials.
“The administration continues to prove they have no shame, and the bar for basic decency keeps getting lower.’’
The prestigious Chapel Hill school started its fall semester last week with campus housing and in-person learning — against the advice of local county health officials, who recommended extremely limited student residence and online classes for at least the first five weeks.
Within six days, there were at least four coronavirus “clusters’’ — which the school defined as five or more cases in “close proximity’’ — reported in three campus residence halls and a fraternity.
Now, the administration has switched to all undergraduate online learning and said it must “de-densify’’ the campus — leaving thousands of students faced with potentially having to head back home just days after arriving.
“We’re angry — and we’re scared,’’ the editorial writers said. “We’re tired of the gaslighting, tired of the secrecy, tired of being treated like cash cows by a University with such blatant disregard for our lives.
UNC students wait outside for a fitness class Monday, just minutes after the university announced all classes would be moved onlineAP
“University leadership should have expected students, many of whom are now living on their own for the first time, to be reckless. Reports of parties throughout the weekend come as no surprise,’’ the editorial said.
“Though these students are not faultless, it was the University’s responsibility to disincentivize such gatherings by reconsidering its plans to operate in-person earlier on.”
University Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s defense was that the health department’s recommendation was not a mandate.
“As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation,” he told the Huffington Post.
“As we have always said, the health and safety of our campus community is paramount, and we will continue to modify and adapt our plan when necessary.”
The school has an undergraduate enrollment of around 19,200 and ranked 29th in the nation for universities, according to US News.