A loosening of Restrictions and transparent decision making at Messiah University

A loosening of Restrictions and transparent decision making at Messiah University

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Messiah Students started this petition to President Kim Phipps and

Dear President Phipps, Dean of Students Villegas, and Residence Life Team, 


This semester has been unlike any other and we the student body are happy to be back on campus. We are thankful and understand the tremendous amount of work that went into making this in-person semester possible. We are glad to be on campus with our peers and hope to stay for the rest of the academic year. With that being said, we have many concerns about policies now in place and promises which seem to be broken.

Students arrived on campus to find things were not as expected. Many students arrived to find out their courses were completely online while other courses only partially in person. Students were told that those on their floor would be treated as immediate and extended family. Despite being a “family” students were required to wear masks on their floor for the first several weeks (Those in special interests housing and apartments are still required to wear masks) and were not allowed to visit others on their own floor.  In the third week of classes all students were subject to mandatory covid testing. Students were promised that after testing occurred and if things went well campus life would improve and more reopenings would occur. The test results came back and they came back spectacularly well, only 1 positive test out of over 2,200 tested. Students were excited that our campus community was safe and healthy, but we were more excited that things could return to normal. Instead things have not opened up as promised. Lottie remained extremely restricted with limits on the number of people at a table and a tight time limit to eat.. Similar restrictions could be found in Union where it was limited to one person a table.

 In the four weeks since these promising test results, the only improvement that has been seen in living conditions is loosening of restrictions in dorms. These loosened restrictions have not been mirrored in any other living arrangement. Things have not changed for the better as students were promised. In a recent email to students about campus life and covid restrictions it was put that “there are reports of significant numbers of students going off campus”. With students living across the street at Oakwood Hills, traffic out of campus is bound to increase and there is no way to tell where students are headed. It is simply not possible to tell why cars are leaving campus and unfair to use this metric as an excuse to keep students restricted.To further restrict our ability to travel off campus, students have been instructed to avoid visiting home. During a trying time like this many students may wish to go home and spend time with their families. Time with family and friends at home can be rejuvenating but under current school policies students who live in states which are green and not on Pennsylvania’s quarantine list are still forced to quarantine.

 A recent change in apartments “The Buddy System” is is a step in the right direction but it's the type of small change that students expected sooner. Allowing only the same person to come over and requiring them to be from the same building is as half-hearted a change as possible. This new rule is yet another in a long string of half hearted changes over the past four weeks. This change is no more than an attempt to appease students while maintaining overly strict restrictions.

Overall we as students understand that Messiah must follow state guidelines and some common-sense  restrictions must be in place in order to stay open. However, as students, the most disappointing thing so far is the lack of communication in relation to a long term strategy. We have seen plans communicated only to be abandoned or reworked days later without any further clarifications or notifications. Students signed up for the in-person semester because we wanted the on-campus experience with classes and with our friends. Room and board costs students an average of $5,000 a semester, many of us are beginning to believe that it is simply not worth it to live on campus. Students were told to be flexible coming into this semester and we have been flexible beyond any reasonable expectations.  Many students are contemplating not returning for the spring semester due to reasons previously stated. There have not been the promised reopenings and Messiah simply does not feel like the Messiah we all know and love.

The students of Messiah urge our administration to review current restrictions and consider further loosening them as promised. The student body has done everything in our power to honor these restrictions and stay safe and healthy. It is time that the administration honors our commitment and loosen restrictions.

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