COVID Controversy on Campus


As of September 20th, there have been 90,069 covid cases in Minnesota and 2,017 subsequent covid deaths. In the timeframe of September 11th-17th, Boynton Health clinic has tested 109 students, with 19 of them being positive and 49 non-students with all of them coming back negative. 

With neighboring Big Ten schools like Iowa and UW experiencing huge numbers of covid cases since their move-in, the U has taken its own return to campus with more caution.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the university has implemented a “sunrise plan,” in which University functions will slowly return to normal in the instance of a decline in the spread of covid-19. Included in this plan is the delayed return to campus for incoming freshmen and those living in on-campus facilities, a mandatory two-week quarantine period, and a curfew that will gradually get later until it is removed. 

Mya Ceglar, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, says that the University, “has not considered all options.

I have a brother that was going to be an incoming freshman who is opting out of this semester due to the response.

— Mya Ceglar

Local restaurants and bars like the Kollege Klub and Sally’s Saloon have been opening with specific guidelines. Even Big Ten and Gopher football are returning. With the University supporting the return of students back to campus and local establishments remaining open, some students are feeling a sense of normalcy and engaging in activity that would not necessarily follow recommended social distancing guidelines. People are not too thrilled about this either. 

The blame of, if one is being realistic, inevitable, social gatherings has not been placed on the University officials pushing for a return to campus to justify the charging of full tuition and rent to pay their own bills, but on the students. 

This call-out culture is on full display on a new Instagram account, @maskupumn. The account is a place where people can send anonymous direct messages calling out certain students, groups, or buildings/businesses for not following social distancing guidelines, a lot of times without any context.

The brunt of the blame in the anonymous submissions has been directed at Greek life. Some of the non-submission account posts read,  “If you’re going to parties during a pandemic, you are a bad person,”  and “Stop acting like you and your friends are immune.” 

The intentions of messages like these and anonymous submissions calling out certain groups may have good intentions, but in the end, they fall short of helping the cause. Mental health expert and psychotherapist Amy Morin speaks about how shaming people is not effective in solving issues, “Shaming other people often doesn’t produce the results we want it to.” What it comes down to is that shaming other people through public shame or a social media post is not going to produce any change. Change will only come from a respectful dialogue. 

While it should be assumed an account with this much power and opportunity to choose which group to call out or information to spread would be run by a professional, it is not. When even asked about this in one DM submission, the account owner responded that “My biggest academic qualifications are that I’m minoring in public health and the History of Science, technology, and Medicine. I also took a freshman seminar about the plague. Plus I’ve been doing extensive independent research.”

Another huge controversial gathering has been of what seems to be 200+ students in the courtyard in the middle of the Superblock dormitory housing. Many people are upset that this gathering fails to realize that hundreds of these students are packed into dormitories sharing one bathroom for a whole hallway of students. Which, most importantly, has been allowed and encouraged by the University.

Noah Hagelberger, a junior at the University of Minnesota, when asked about how one should go about their lives during the pandemic says,  “People should be conscious of where they are going and who they are with. The virus affects everyone differently and if you are at risk you should take all the precautions possible.” 

The bottom line is that this virus is real and it affects real people. Many have died from it and it should be taken seriously, but in certain controlled environments where one’s own health is their decision, it is their choice to take their own risks. The real one’s that are responsible for gatherings on-campus happening are the university officials pushing for the return to campus, and it is not productive for anyone to shame students for it.