Success in COVID-19 battle demands unity among all at SAC


Saint Anselm College Flickr

Students gathered during Orientation Week for a socially distanced mass outside of Alumni Hall.

Alex Dooley, Editor-in-Chief

The Saint Anselm College community is living in a new world that is facing potentially the most serious threat of our lifetime. In a world riddled with disease, death and division, there has never been a more serious need for unity between our students, and all segments of the college community. The students have placed an extreme amount of trust in the administration to take every necessary precaution to keep us on the grounds and safe in a place that we call home. With that comes an immense amount of responsibility that must be upheld in order to keep the hope of a full academic year alive.

As students of Saint Anselm College, we have been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to return to campus, as for some it is their final year on the Hilltop. I know I speak for the majority of my fellow members of the Class of 2021 when I say that we want nothing more than to remain here as long as possible. However in the face of this pandemic, we must begin to put our situation into perspective.

Life on the Hilltop is already quite different from it has been over the past several years. While this is unknown to first-year students, students and faculty alike have seen the incredible transformations that have been made in order to function in accordance with both New Hampshire and federal guidelines. The reality is though, that there has been a disregard for the immense efforts that has been made to get students back on campus.

Before any student could return to campus, they had to sign the Community Care Covenant that makes a commitment to the protection of fellow students, faculty and the college community as a whole. Simply put, the Covenant was required to return to campus, but the students have to uphold it in order to stay here. This does not just mean some of the time, or when it is convenient, but all of the time. Especially when no one is looking. While there are students that have been following the rules set by the Covenant, there are still those who choose to gather in large groups, leave campus unnecessarily and ignore the procedures that were agreed upon by all students.

With that said, this is far from a lecture to anyone about what is necessary to stay on campus. The fact of the matter is, this is hard. The idea of being in a place that we love, and not being able to see the people that we want, keep a mask on, not gather in groups, is hard! But students have to  begin to prioritize what matters more. Is it worth pretending like nothing is happening and ignoring safety guidelines resulting in increased risk just for a sense of normalcy? We all long for the normalcy of what life on the Hilltop was in years past, especially now. But normalcy now has to be redefined in a time where life within a pandemic is inherently not normal.

While there have been several examples of some students unwilling to follow the guidelines during our time here up to this point, I believe that have been several times the administration has come up short in regards to CO-VID 19 response communication. Action was taken in order to have the students return to campus, but now I feel as though we have been left in the dark about several aspects of the response.

After a long stretch of no new cases since move-in day, and now with several new cases in the last couple days, students are anxiously awaiting news from the administration regarding what the next step will be. Will restrictions tighten back down due to new cases emerging? Is there potential for the students to be sent home? Is there anything more that should be done or is it time to adjust certain protocols? All of these questions circulate through the student body time and time again as news is eagerly anticipated.

None of this is to say that the response that has been enacted is ‘insufficient’ or ‘unsatisfactory’, nor is it to say that the students who are putting in the effort to follow the guidelines are going unnoticed. Rather, this is a call to realize the fragility of the situation that the Saint Anselm College community has been placed in. If we relax too much, there is a higher possibility for a potential outbreak before the on-campus semester ends. If we continue to tighten restrictions despite the earlier hopes of loosening restrictions, it will progressively become harder to manage. We must find a balance of being proactive against COVID-19, and keeping our college community safe and happy.

If there is any place that is able to make it through this challenge, it will be Saint Anselm College. We have some of the greatest students in the country, an administration that cares about the students, and a community that supports our efforts to set an example in a time of struggle. We must continue this effort. Set individual perspectives aside, and instead seek to benefit the greater population of Saint Anselm College. The state is looking for this college to be an exception in the face of this looming threat, and we have already done such an incredible job. But the job is not done. We must continue, to the best of our ability, to tackle this challenge head-on.

It is difficult, and there is no way to get around that. There is no student here who wishes to be dealing with any of this. But the only way that students, faculty and staff are going to get through this, is together. It is not just about one person anymore, but rather how we choose to deal with this as Anselmians.