Reopen Core of 113 Complex for Student Use

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As a student taking all online classes last semester, I found the ability to work in a different environment from where I sleep absolutely imperative to both my mental health and my academic success. 

Students in 113 proved their ability to responsibility adhere to COVID safety protocols throughout the duration of last semester, by inhabiting the common space in 113 — herein referenced as the Core — only when social distancing and wearing masks. Colgate’s decision to shut down the Core will heighten students’ proclivity to gather in bedrooms, where social distancing is not only improbable because of the smaller spaces, but is no longer within the privy of the greater community. We all want to stay safe this semester, but it goes without saying that students are more likely to behave responsibly when we can interact in public spaces where we can hold each other accountable. 

The placement of this new COVID testing site came as a surprise to every resident of the 113 Broad Street complex. Students were informed of the development at 10:01pm on January 23, 2021, after nearly everyone had already moved in and many had tried opening the newly locked doors to the Core. This communicative shortcoming prevented students from taking actionable steps to prepare for their altered living situation. Roommates who could tolerate one another with the distance afforded by the Core might have made other arrangements had they known the new level of confinement to expect. Sleep schedule, personality, course schedule, and study habit compatibility suddenly went from a convenience to a necessity. It is extraordinary that, in all of Colgate’s tremendous communication efforts throughout this unprecedented time, the residents of 113 were not informed of this development once before the night of the last day to move in. The oversight is an indication of which variables the Colgate University Emergency Operations Committee took into consideration when they made the decision to shut us out of our cherished common space. My hope is that it was not a deliberate choice to maintain our ignorance to the development. 

The safety precautions taken to reduce residents’ risk of infection include changing the locks to the 113 Core, moving furniture, and installing HEPA filters. The actions taken were not costly enough to prohibit Colgate’s administration from pivoting and determining a better location for COVID testing. HEPA filters should be present in a building housing as many residents as 113 anyway, and they are mobile, so could be relocated to whichever new location Colgate’s Administration chooses for this testing site. 

The unique situation of 113’s position on campus nullifies any point of comparison between 113 Broad Street and housing up the hill. After Gate 0, students in 113 will be at an academic disadvantage in relation to students living in other locations on campus because residents of 113 will be much further from designated study spaces than others.  

Finally, there are other locations on campus near but not inside the 113 Complex which are just as good, if not better, for the purpose of COVID-19 testing and managing the traffic thereof. As a student who volunteers her time to help test others for COVID-19, I am positive of this fact. Examples of these locations include: the modular trailer classroom outside of 113, the Hall of Presidents, any one of the basketball courts or workout rooms in the Huntington Gym, the ground floor classrooms in Burke and Pinchin Halls, or any one of the many large classrooms or lecture halls which will be unused in academic buildings this semester. 

It is with respect and urgency that those who have signed this petition ask you to move the location of this COVID-19 testing site. It is certainly not too late to change this plan, and we know it will make the next 3+ months happier, healthier, and more productive for all of us. 

Best, 

Margo Williams 

Colgate ‘23 

mwilliams2@colgate.edu