October 19’ 2021
As of October 6, the Alma College Office for Residence Life has extended the housing limitations mandate which prevents large gatherings within small, on campus housing such as fraternity and sorority houses for the sake of containing the virus and preventing an on campus spread.
“Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in Gratiot County, and with guidance from local health officials, we ask that no large gatherings take place in small houses until Nov. 1, 2021”, said Sandra A. Gadde, Vice President for Student Affairs.
This announcement came in light of the fact that while Gratiot County recorded 0 new COVID cases on September 30th, there was a 70-case rise recorded just one day after that, on October 1. Consistently after that, about 75-80 new cases have been recorded every single day in the county with a population of just 40,000 people. This brings the total number of positive cases in the county since the start of the pandemic to 8,399.
This announcement came as a disappointment to students living and involved in the events of small housing on campus, especially since this became the third time the mandate has been extended. A direct consequence of the mandate was students’ inability to hold gatherings on homecoming weekend, their inability to practice age-old tradition related to fraternity and sorority recruitment of new students and now, their inability to celebrate Halloween and hold related events inside small housing.
For fraternities, there were no formally held runouts after they were cancelled for the second year in a row. For sororities, all events during recruitment week were held outside at various venues across campus.
A student, member of a fraternity on campus, came forward to talk about his experience of being involved in a fraternity during COVID. The student, who chose to be anonymous, said, “We understand why the campus does what it does. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s been hard on all students to try and put up with the mandates. To many students, it continues to feel like their college years are passing them by while there is not much they can do to truly live the college life they thought they were going to get. Obviously, it’s nobody’s fault that we are in this situation and that we have these rules. Hopefully we can return to normal soon.”
As of October 18, the campus has 55 positive cases including faculty, staff and students with 77% of the student body and 92% of the faculty and staff fully vaccinated. That is still enough positive cases on campus for the college administration to lift or relax mandates with a lot of caution. Moving too swiftly in going back to normal may put unnecessary strain on campus resources leading to worse consequences in the longer run.
By December of this year, we will complete two years of living under the pandemic. Many hope to see more normalcy by then, in and off campus. As students will return for winter semester in January of 2022, many hope to have no mask mandate on campus anymore and hope to be able to be involved in more vibrant on campus events as more students get vaccinated and we near the end of life under the pandemic.