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Residence Life responds to students COVID-19 policy concerns

“I am so grateful for the work that our staff and faculty put into keeping campus open this year,”  Margy Fraizer said in her interview with the Lumen this week.  As part of a follow-up effort based on the Lumen’s March 2 article relating to student approvalor lack thereof, of Viterbo’s “Zero-guest policy.”  As of March 4, Residence Life released an alteration to Viterbo’s guest policy.   


According to an email from Residence Life, “Residential students are allowed a maximum of one guest at a time in residence hall rooms and a maximum of two guests at a time in an apartment.”  Residence Life added that guests would be limited to oncampus residents who must be masked and abide by standard guest hours for Viterbo University., which are 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.   


“The largest drawback [of the Zero-guest policy] was social isolation, hands down. Those of us living on campusmyself included, were unable to find private spaces to spend time with their close social circle without leaving campus,” Frazier said.  Indeed, many students polled by the Lumen echoed Frazier’s statements, referring to “lack of social interaction” and the sacrifice of “mental health to prevent COVID.”   


It will certainly be a welcome change for the majority of on campus residents, but Frazier mentioned another issue for students to keep in mind moving forward.  “The other major plus to this policy [was] that we were able to protect those residents who are concerned about getting sick because they or loved ones are immunocompromised,” she said.  “It provided safety for those people, without putting them in exhausting positions of having to constantly push their roommate(s) to modify their behavior if roommate(s) were less cautious.”  Frazier indicated her concern for these students and stressed the need for respectful conversation among roommates surrounding the new guest policy.   


Another issue students were asked to comment on when polled on February 15, was the use of security camera footage for disciplinary cases involving mask usage and guest policy violations.  And while the policies have evolved since that time, Frazier did indicate the use of camera footage would still be an active part of Residence Life’s processes.  “We have always acted upon policy violations seen on camera; those cameras are monitored regularly,” Frazier said.  Students were forthcoming in their reaction to the use of security footage, calling it “a violation of privacy,” “stupid and unnecessary,” and “really screwed up,” among other labels.  Frazier acknowledged this sentiment and stressed honesty by saying, “I think it‘s critical that folks know those cameras are there and monitored; residents have the right to know that cameras are present to protect our community.”  she said, “the largest drawback to bringing folks in for conducting conversations based on camera footage is that only a brief moment of the larger picture is captured.  Part of the reason we follow up on every captured violation is to give the person on-camera the space to provide context to the 10 second clip.” 


One thing that rang true when speaking with Frazier was hope.  Of the Viterbo community this year, Frazier called herself “in awe” and “proud beyond measure” and had some comments to give on the year to come as well.  “While my personal assumption is that we’re going to be wearing masks for a while, I have been impressed by all that Viterbo has done to provide as close to a ‘normal’ experience as possible. It’s a high priority for me to be able to keep our buildings open safely and to provide opportunities to have guests over safely. My expectation is that the university will continue to put a high amount of time into monitoring the ever-changing situation and modifying our approach based on the most up-to-date data.”  For Viterbo students excited about changing COVID-19 policies, things look to be only getting better from here.   

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