Before the beginning of fall quarter, when students were anticipating to step back onto campus, there were a few guidelines and rules UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) enforced to create a safe and COVID-19-conscious environment. We had to wear masks, be vaccinated, take COVID-19 tests, and fill out a daily COVID-19 screening survey. The mask and vaccine mandates are solid policies every student has a responsibility to follow; however, the COVID-19 screening survey that indicates whether you are allowed on campus or not is useless.
The survey gives students a green badge, cleared to be on-site; and a purple badge, not cleared to be on-site. While the idea is commendable, the process is rendered useless when students can lie on the surveys about their symptoms in order to be cleared. It doesn’t deter people from being dishonest, nor does it protect the community. I say this because I know I am not the only person who feels unsafe about the recurrent coughs and sneezes from our classmates during lectures. This is not to say people cannot cough or sneeze, but if it is occurring more than usual, it is worth thinking about those around you and perhaps considering staying inside until you feel better — especially given our current global context.
Now, here’s my follow-up criticism: Students may be punished for their absences by unforgiving professors, even though being sick is out of their control. cannot help sneezing, coughing, or being sick. Some professors are also not as forgiving in regards to absences, so students would be punished for missing class. This goes against promoting a safer environment for students on campus, because we would feel forced to go to class to avoid getting academically punished, like getting a couple of points off your grade at the expense of others. If students want to be more COVID-19-conscious, we shouldn’t be punished or get our grades knocked off for avoiding people if we could be sick or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The green badges on campus do not do anything, and our classmates sneezing and coughing throughout the class are proof. I genuinely wonder what UCSB’s thought process and decision-making were behind enforcing this system. What is the point of those badges if we can just mark off “No” while we are sneezing and coughing?
If we didn’t have this feature from UCSB, would it make that big of a difference? UCSB has remained stable and we have not yet experienced a huge spike in positive cases; however, we should still remember the chance is never zero. Although you may have the green badge, please be mindful of your fellow gauchos around you. If you are checking “no” to every survey question but mentally thinking “yes” or a “maybe,” please wear a mask, get tested, vaccinated, and stay at home.