When AU’s President Mark Zupan coined the term, “Protect the Lux,” he wasn't referring to the Fiat Lux sign on campus. He’s referring to students doing their part to keep everyone safe during a global pandemic. AU students take pride in being able to maintain on-campus classes and activities this Fall semester. Tough times leave our decision makers looking toward solutions to lessen the blow of COVID. 1300 tests came back negative before the first positive was found at AU. If students follow the new guidelines, they will be rescinded. AU has been transparent in it’s coverage of COVID on campus. The administration has made efforts to keep students in the loop.
An email was sent out Thursday night with new restrictions. The Allegheny County Department of Health has presented guidelines to help us “Protect the Lux.” Extracurricular activities and athletics are canceled as well as a 10 p.m. curfew. These measures are a result of recent increases in COVID-19 cases. Currently there are 10 students in isolation who have tested positive for COVID and 100+ students in quarantine traced to positive tests.
Students are taking the virus seriously and doing their best to follow the proper protocol. Seeing COVID trends on other college campuses is definitely eye-opening for students. There is a misconception that the new restrictions are a punishment. Some feel they are being stripped of the proper college experience. Unfortunately, the only way to get Alfred back to its healthy social climate is to follow the rules.
Understanding the severity of COVID Junior AU football player Chris Cox weighed in on the subject. “People react negatively to the curfew because we're college students. I definitely take pride in being on campus at this time because some schools don’t even have that opportunity at all. I think that students trust administrators' decisions to a certain extent. We were told we would be able to advance with athletics, resulting in more competition against each other -- and we couldn’t.”
Cox is referring to the reluctance of decision makers to allow football players to have physical contact with each other. Being allowed to hit is a symbolic reward for the off-season work the players put in. Due to COVID, players were denied this, resorting to contact-free practice instead. Cox also highlighted that everyone has to do their part to stop the spread.
Marketing major Sean Lewis believes protecting the lux is important, but now he feels restricted. “I personally feel like students think it’s important to Protect the Lux. I understand why the administration did this, but at the same time, I want my freedom. I take pride in being on campus but it’s turning into that same “back home” feeling. I live with those same restraints and I went to college to get away from that.”
To date there have been 1820 tests administered with 12 positive results. With a small population these are relatively low numbers. 69 students have been released from quarantine or isolation. About 30 more are expected to be released over the weekend.
The main objective is to not let our guard down. That will inevitably cause the virus to spread. Trusting the system is key to Protecting the Lux.
President Zupan was asked to shed light on the situation. He expressed his optimism as well as his intentions for Alfred University moving forward. “We remain cautiously optimistic about finishing the fall semester in person without having to pivot back online. This coming week will be crucial to realizing the objective, given district quarantine guidelines. We intend to re-issue recently announced added safety protocols as soon as we are down to a more manageable number of students in isolation.”
Zupan went on, expressing the gratefulness of fellow decision makers. “We greatly appreciate the forbearance and resilience our students have displayed in light of these added hardships. Most of all, we are grateful that our students both in isolation and in quarantine by and large report being on the mend.”
By Jamall Lewis