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An RA’s Take on COVID-19 Guest Policy

Discontent has been voiced, policy has been changed, and now students are left wondering if the worst is over in terms of COVID and the issues it has caused in terms of guest policy restrictions.  On March 7, Margy Krogman sat down with the Lumen to discuss the newlyrevised guest policy and how it will affect the lives of our students and resident assistants.   

Krogman referenced a variety of issues, ranging from video footage use to what Viterbo students need to do to ensure the campus remains open, and everything in between.   


After discussing the issue with students and the head of residence life, it seemed that only one voice was still missing from this conversation.  This week the Lumen interviewed one of our campus’s resident assistants.  Nicholas Carlstrom, junior BFA stage management major and RA of Rose 3, had some thoughts on what the new guest policy might mean for those tasked with enforcing it.   


When asked if the new guest policy would make life harder or easier for the RAs on campus, Carlstrom indicated that the policy might create some new challenges. “It is harder in the sense that it is not as simple as noticing oh there are three voices in this room meant for two.’”  Carlstrom acknowledged that the previous zero-guest policy “in some ways made the job easier.  But in actuality,” he added, with the new guest policy “our job is closer to that of a ‘normal’ year without COVID.”   


When asked to reflect on the zeroguest policy, Carlstrom voiced a concern raised by both students and Krogman.  “The major drawback [to the policy] would be that mental health in students may have suffered from being separated and having to deal with issues on their own,Carlstrom said.  “Because of this I highly recommend counseling services to talk things out,” he added, citing a free resource available to all Viterbo students.  


Carlstrom said the main benefit of the previous guest policy was “class being inperson due to it reducing the transmission rate.  Without a no guest policy, class in person would be almost impossible” Carlstrom said, bringing to mind the high transmission rates of COVID in the La Crosse County for much of the fall 2020 semester. “With the transmission rate and COVID cases down, we thankfully have been able to ease up on guest policies, but things could go back at any moment if the guidelines don’t get followed,” Carlstrom said to wrap up his thought on the zeroguest policy.   


When surveyed by the Lumen during the week of February 15, students seemed overall discontented with residence life over the zeroguest policy.   “Because I personally do not see the numbers for our campus going up drastically at all- it’s sad that Viterbo Residence life cannot see this and fix it immediately,” one students said.  Another added that “[it] seems like the guest policy benefits those the university wants it too.”  And yet another upset student referenced “the authoritarian control of Viterbo residence life is trying to suck more money from the student’s pockets for no reason.”   


The Lumen asked Carlstrom if he noticed this tension now or before the guest policy change.  While acknowledging that the position of being an RA always comes with a certain degree of tension, Carlstrom was pleased with the amount of respect given by students to residence life this year. “I personally didn’t feel much tension before or after [the change]” Carlstrom said. “I think that most people came into this year knowing the unfortunate situation everyone was in with no guests and have been respectful of that.”  


When asked what the Viterbo’s next steps for dealing with COVID on our campus, Carlstrom was clear about which group currently holds the cards.  “I think this challenge is in the hands of students, if people are going to each other’s dorms maskless and cases spike, we go back to no guests at the send of an email,” Carlstrom said.  It remains to be seen if any further changes are to come to Viterbo’s guest policies.  For now, it seems that disagreement between students and residence life over the guest policy has been solved.  

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