For most of the semester, we have come together as a community to fight the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. This becomes increasingly difficult as our statewide and local reported cases increase. If you take a look at our Ohio State COVID-19 dashboard, you will see our daily student positivity rates have quadrupled over the past two weeks.
Every day on campus I see many students, staff and faculty members following the university’s safe and healthy requirements. Yet there is also behavior that is, quite frankly, irresponsible, disappointing and could be contributing to a rise in COVID-19 cases among our student population.
To be very clear: hosting and/or attending large gatherings is not only against guidance from the State of Ohio, it is also against the university’s safe and healthy requirements. Furthermore, most reports of large gatherings also describe a lack of physical distancing and very few masks in use. This blatant disrespect for our community’s health and safety is simply unacceptable. And it’s about so much more than that.
Soon, many of you will be travelling to visit friends and family, some who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 for a variety of reasons. The decisions you are making right now will directly impact your chances of infecting others with COVID-19 in the days and weeks ahead. It seems like an easy decision to skip that large, off-campus party to help keep your family members healthy, but from the reports we received over the past weekends, many of you have decided to take the chance.
I have sent you several messages over the past months, even before school started, sharing about the consequences you will face if you are found to have violated the university’s safe and healthy requirements, and thus the Code of Student Conduct. All of these warnings hold true. Further, I have asked our Student Conduct team to continue to utilize disciplinary holds for registration and records for students who fail to respond, as well as include as a sanction in health and safety cases the inability to purchase any type of athletic tickets for next year.
These last few days of the semester are so important, and what we do now will impact our local communities, our friends and families and even our ability to come back to our campuses for Spring Semester. Please, come Together As Buckeyes and do all you can to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Melissa S. Shivers, PhD
Vice President for Student Life
The Ohio State University