Titans in the time of COVID

Katie Fata

In an effort to bring and keep students on campus, Illinois Wesleyan has set a number of COVID-19 policies and precautions in place and continues to do so as cases rise* (as of writing, IWU’s case total is 68). 

According to the University’s latest COVID update, The rising case numbers are due to an outbreak after “off-campus social gatherings [took place] in the week before classes began.” 

“We hope this early outbreak serves as a reality check for all of us that this virus spreads quickly and easily,” Dean Karla Carney-Hall said. 

The outbreak warning comes at the same time that Illinois State University’s COVID-19 cases topped 1,000 this week— three weeks into the school year. 

“Any increase in college-age COVID-19 cases jeopardizes our county’s positivity rate and our privilege of staying open as a residential campus,” Dean Carney-Hall said. 

While the administration previously relied on general broadcast emails to give students updates, case totals are now being displayed on a dashboard. IWU announced on Wednesday that Spring 2021 classes would take place as it has in past years, beginning on January 13 in the form of mixed-mode instruction. 

IWU plans to continue to monitor cases in the future by conducting weekly testing of 5-10% of the campus starting September 9. 

In the face of an unprecedented campus environment, however, Titans have adapted. 

The annual RSO fair took place across August 24-27 and adhered to social distancing protocols by spreading organizations out across both Eckley and Egbers quads and allowing only two members per RSO to attend. Students were encouraged to attend in masks and this year’s fair went without flyers to minimize physical touch between students. 

Titans haven’t let COVID-19 impact their ability to speak out. The offices of Multifaith Engagement and Diversity and Inclusion held a Gathering for Racial Justice on August 31 and encouraged students to come together and make their voices heard. On-campus micro and macro aggressions were discussed as well as the student community’s response to Black Lives Matter (BLM). The gathering comes after student backlash in response to the University’s lack of recognition of BLM after George Floyd’s death in May. 

The gathering took place just hours after students, faculty and alum rallied on the quad to bring attention to President Nugent’s Cabinet’s decision to cut a number of programs as well as issue three faculty members terminal contracts. “Heeding for the Humanities” was organized to show support for the departments being slashed. 

 Though the future of campus and COVID-19 is uncertain, Titans continue to plan in-person and virtual events in order to bring the campus together as safely as possible.

Students were encouraged to attend a socially-distant version of the annual RSO fair.

Credit: Illinois Wesleyan University on Facebook