UNC Students Say Campus Is Unsafe, Demand Stricter COVID-19 Policies

By GQ Pan
GQ Pan
GQ Pan
September 7, 2021 Updated: September 7, 2021

Student leaders of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are raising objections to the school’s COVID-19 policies, which they say are not strict enough to ensure safety of the already overwhelmingly vaccinated campus.

At a Sept. 2 meeting, a group of student leaders read a statement released by UNC Student Government titled, “Enough is Enough,” in response to the university’s approach to public health for the fall semester.

“Our community is not safe,” they declared. “It is not secure. And it is not well.”

The COVID-19 dashboard on UNC–Chapel Hill’s website reported that, from Aug. 2 to Sept. 6, 491 students and 78 employees had tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. That makes a positivity rate of 2.05 percent for a campus serving more than 29,000 students and 3,800 faculty members.

While UNC–Chapel Hill does not require proof of vaccination as a condition of enrollment or employment, 91 percent of students and 87 percent of all employees have told the university they are vaccinated against the CCP virus. Those who are not vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status must be tested for the virus twice a week. Masks are required at all times when inside any campus facilities.

The student leaders, however, argued that those measures are inadequate. They demanded that the university administrators implement, among other things, a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, an outdoor mask requirement, and mandatory testings for all members of the campus community at least once a week for all members of the campus community, regardless of their vaccination status.

“The value of the safety of our community is not open for negotiation,” the statement read.

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin were invited to the meeting but did not attend, reported student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel.

“The Chancellor values student input and will continue to work directly with student leaders in the best interest of the campus, but he will not participate in publicity stunts,” a university spokesperson said in an email to the newspaper, adding that the current COVID-19 policies are in accordance to the advice from the school’s top medical professors, local health officials, and the campus community.

The students’ demands come as Duke University, which is located 10 miles south of Chapel Hill, updated its COVID-19 protocol. With a vaccination mandate in place, Duke identified 736 positive cases among students and employees between Aug. 2 and Sept. 6.

Among the new restrictive measures is a mask requirement in all indoor and outdoor locations, except when alone or eating. Indoor group seating at Duke’s dining facilities is temporarily suspended, as those services shift to take-out only. Students must participate in surveillance testing at least once a week, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

“We cannot stop COVID-19, but what we can do is adapt to our local and national realities and seek to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” Duke administrators said in an Aug. 30 statement.

GQ Pan