Colleges are racing to reconfigure dorms, expand testing programs and establish detailed social distancing rules. And then, what to do about sex?
This month, many colleges around the country plan to welcome back thousands of students into something they hope will resemble normal campus life. But they face challenges unlike any other American institution — containing the coronavirus among a young, impulsive population that not only studies together, but lives together, parties together, and, if decades of history are any guide, sleeps together.
It will be a hugely complex and costly endeavor requiring far more than just the reconfiguring of dorm rooms and cafeterias and the construction of annexes and tent classrooms to increase social distancing. It also crucially involves the creation of testing programs capable of serving communities the size of small cities and the enforcement of codes of conduct among students not eager to be policed.
Who will be tested for the coronavirus and how quickly can they get results? Will mask wearing be mandated? And what will happen to tailgating, keg parties and sneaking into your partner’s dorm room? Colleges are mapping strategies as varied as the contrasting Covid regulations enacted by the states, reflecting the culture and leadership of their schools.
Syracuse is vowing to play the strict parent, requiring students to sign codes of conduct with penalties for violating Covid-19 rules more severe than the punishment for smoking marijuana. But the University of Kentucky is presenting a more lenient front, adopting existing honor codes that urge students to “promote personal responsibility and peer accountability.”
And the University of Texas-Austin has prohibited students from holding parties on or off campus, banned overnight guests in dorm rooms and warned students that they can be disciplined for “purposefully invading the personal space of others,” at least without a face mask on.
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