As an alumna of the University of Virginia, I found the July 24 letter to the editor from an incoming student (“Rethink criticism of UVa re-opening”) to be woefully irresponsible and fundamentally uninformed, especially when he asserted that the “educational, social, and economic benefits of bringing students back certainly outweigh the risk of student-to student transmission.”
As a graduate of UVa (and one who forwent the ceremonial walk down the Lawn for the sake of public health), it is my most sincere hope that UVa’s plans for re-opening go smoothly, and that students, faculty, staff, and Charlottesville residents are able to re-integrate into the community safely. It is imperative, however, that we not allow our impatience to return to get the best of us in a situation with such high stakes.
As the letter writer states, many students are, of course, “suffering from cabin fever in their hometowns.” He might even be correct when he says “if bars and restaurants and fraternity houses are open, they’ll go.”
This is exactly the problem. It seems highly unlikely that the university will be able to put enough precautions into place to shield the greater Charlottesville community from the inevitable number of cases students will cause.
In January 2019, President Jim Ryan called upon our university to “strive to be both great and good in all that we do.” In the same 2019 speech, President Ryan implored that “[the university] should be a good neighbor to the Charlottesville region.”
Simply put, we cannot endanger the Charlottesville community for our own gain. The school boards of both Charlottesville City and Albemarle County are already concerned over how the university opening will affect public schools in the area (Daily Progress news story, online July 13).
Let us then take Mayor Nikuyah Walker’s concerns seriously, and not dismiss them outright in a blind attempt to ignore what may be a very real possibility: that the return of students to Grounds in the fall will wreak deadly havoc on not only the university community, but the Charlottesville community as well.
Information link: https://president.virginia.edu/speeches-writings/on-uvas-future
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