On Thursday at 1 p.m., the Office of the President released an email stating, “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to send the majority of students home by no later than Saturday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m.”
According to the email, the decision to send students home was made due to an increase of COVID-19 cases both on campus and in the state of Michigan. The positive cases on campus forced essential staff members into quarantine, creating great difficulty in providing students with the services needed for a typical school year. The uptick of positive cases also created challenges to the college’s ability to house all students in quarantine.
Calhoun County Department of Public Health also informed the college that they are having difficulty managing the increase in positive cases in the college and the county. As a result, they are encouraging the college to “de-densify” the campus population.
Faculty agreeing to voluntarily move the majority of their classes online also made the transition for students to move off-campus and still complete the semester more possible.
Students, who were originally planning on moving off campus no sooner than Nov. 24, must now make arrangements to depart much sooner.
The 48-hour notice has left many students feeling stressed, disoriented and angry. Although students have the ability to apply for an extended stay on campus, the vast majority are strongly encouraged to move off campus if possible. As a result, some students are upset at having to move off campus two weeks earlier than expected. Others are upset that the campus testing has stopped so community testing is the only option available.
“If at all possible, I would love to have a meeting with the administration about this because this entire process and especially the lack of testing is not okay,” said Samantha Brand, a junior from Sault Ste. Marie . “I’ve been in line with other students and community members for an hour and a half and the community is now overwhelmed due to the college’s decision to stop testing.”
Some students are taking to social media to express their emotions. Students’ frustrations can be seen through Instagram and Twitter posts as well as Snapchat rants.
Mitch Wiltzius, a junior from Kingsford, took matters into his own hands and staged a one person protest in front of President Mathew Johnson’s house. Wiltzius taped posters with messages like “‘One Albion’ when convenient,” “‘Residential campus?’ For who? President J. and goats?” and “‘Albion will challenge you’ – Challenge your mental health,” to his car.
“I’m not leaving until I have the rest of the food in my belly and the rest of my sleep in my room because I paid for it and I deserve it. I am not asking for a refund or anything, I am only asking for what I paid for and what everyone else has paid for. I do not think it is that much to ask,” said Wiltzius.
Money is not the only origin of students’ frustration. Another point of upset is the concept of public health and the feeling that students are asking questions but not receiving answers.
“Campus Safety is supposed to be a value of safety. Safety, safety, safety,” said Wiltzius. “But what is public health? It is our safety too and yet the Campus Safety officers are gonna walk around without masks on property and approach any student they want to because they feel they have the authority but they do not wear masks. So what’s the deal? We need answers.”
One of the questions students want answers to is what they perceive to be an inherent contradiction between students being forced to leave campus, but prospective students being invited on campus for tours.
“I have seen three different prospective students and their families on campus today taking tours and yet we are supposed to be packing our shit and leaving. This is absolutely ridiculous. Is this our home or is it not? You tell us one thing and then tell us to do another and I am sick of it. I am absolutely sick of it,” says Wiltzius
Hannah Woods, a senior from Macomb, agreed with Wiltzius.
“[Prospective students] have been coming to campus since the beginning,” said Woods. “You can’t expect us to not leave our bubble when you bring people into it. Virtual tours are a thing now. Utilize them.”
Students are not only expressing upset over the contradiction that lies in the principle of making students leave while inviting prospective students in. They are upset over the safety risk caused by letting those outside of the Albion bubble on campus.
“I just wish they would at least try to do the virtual tours because it is a really good resource,” said Woods. “They need to bring people in for money purposes, which I totally understand. But it’s just not safe.”