NAU Campus is Not Safe

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Disclaimer: This information is coming from several RAs on campus. While officials on campus may say one thing. This information comes from personal testimonies from RA’s who are the ones who have witnessed and experienced NAU’s policies first hand. 

In case you are unaware, Residential Assistants are tasked with enforcing all of the housing policies on campus. They are required to move in every single student who lives on campus. They are required to interact a minimum of two times in person with each of their assigned students. They are required to keep students safe. 

RAs have been on campus since July 28th, training and receiving information and the protocols that NAU will be following in response to COVID-19. They are required to enforce mask wearing and social distancing. Since that time there have been reports of RA’s being spat at, and verbally abused by people on campus for enforcing these rules without a backbone or way to truly enforce it. Some RAs in certain halls do not socially distance or wear masks while at training (which is what caused a total quarantine of Sechrist hall). 

In terms of following NAU Protocols, RA’s are not required to get tested after arriving on campus. According to one RA’s boss, testing every single RA would be a “logistical nightmare” that the university simply cannot afford. If an RA reports to have gotten COVID-19 they are required to quarantine themselves. But they are not required to report that they have gotten COVID-19. At least one RA has admitted to not reporting a positive test in fear that they would be fired from their job and not receive the housing rent coverage that RAs receive as compensation for their work (it is rumored that there are at least 4 RAs that have done this). Once up at campus, if they feel sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 they are told to “take the day off” and then return to activities. If they do get sick, there is no system in place to deliver them food, making it impossible for them to stay in their dorms and avoid a further spread. 

As of August 2nd, there were 35 RAs and 2 RHDs quarantining due to the spread on campus.They were only required to quarantine for 6 days. At this moment, they are assisting students move into dorms, without tests to say that they are COVID-free. As the CDC has said, it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to show and may take up to a month to be considered safe.

In terms of students, RAs are not allowed to know who in their hall has COVID-19 due to campus health privacy policies and HIPPA. They still will have to interact with everyone as if everything is normal. 2 students have already been moved into the isolation spaces on campus. While I get that this is public policy, having to interact with every student without being able to know if they have it is a safety concern for those RA's.

For those that do not know the isolation spaces are where those that contract COVID-19 are sent. They are told to pack up a few days worth of necessities and move to one of the designated areas. Food will be delivered to the dorms, but there is no way to enforce a quarantine between these students, meaning that they can leave whenever they want. 

Healthy RAs of other dorms are randomly selected to work shifts in the isolation spaces and interact with the infected students. They then have to return to their normal schedule and interact with their own students and go to class. One RA has said that they are immuno-compromised but have not received an option to opt out of this assignment even after requesting it. 

The reason that I am getting this information out instead of these RAs is because they have been threatened by supervisors and NAU officials to be fired or sued by the school if they release this information. They are not allowed to tell how many cases are on campus. They are not allowed to tell others about the application of these COVID Response policies. They are not allowed to tell others where the isolation spaces are.

This information is solely guarded to protect NAU from losing funding due to a loss of housing rent. Morally, I cannot allow this information to stay hidden from the students who are the ones being put at risk by this system. 

This petition has been called fear mongering by parents and faculty. By doing this you only delegitimize the risks that these RAs are going through. There is no way to back up any statistics because NAU will not release them. Again, the information comes from actual RAs and their experiences. If you feel that this is just as morally wrong as these RAs and I do, please sign and share this petition. It is the only way that there can be a change.