Is it fair to fault college students for COVID-19 outbreaks?
At the same time that blame and responsibility were piling on, critics were questioning whether it was fair to fault college students for doing what students naturally do, especially when they’ve been cooped up with their parents for months, away from their friends and eager for a “real” college experience.
And should college administrators shoulder much of the blame for bringing students back in the midst of a pandemic and expecting radical changes in their behavior?
Julia L. Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, believes they should. “What’s happening on college campuses is a microcosm of what’s happening in this country, which is a deflection of responsibility from the top down to the individual,” she said in an interview.
“It’s unconscionable for these administrators to be shaming and blaming and punishing their students for what we all knew would happen. For any of us who take a minute to put ourselves back in our 18-year-old selves, asking students to essentially lock themselves in their rooms for a semester isn’t going to be an effective public-health approach.”