Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

BC Ends COVID-19 Surveillance Testing

On February 21, 2022, the Boston College administration made multiple changes to the university’s policy regarding COVID-19. Spearheaded by David Trainor, BC’s VP of Human Resources, and Dr. Douglas Comeau, UHS Director, the initiative to return to normalcy was starkly featured with the termination of required surveillance testing. What this does, however, is not rid the university of the virus. It only shows that the BC administration is willing to disregard the virus’ impact and remove itself from any sort of responsibility. 

Crediting Massachusetts’ Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ urge to “accelerate [educational institutions’] efforts to transition back to ‘near normal conditions,’” the message argues that ending almost all acknowledgments of the coronavirus is the way to do so. Sure, the pandemic has raged on for almost two years, but is weekly testing such a heinous act that burdens all parties involved? It certainly can be afforded by the University and its $3.8 billion endowment, and students should not mind the 15-minute-maximum walk to the testing center. 

The only thing that this new practice accomplishes is a blatant outcry from the BC administration that professes their ignorance of and carelessness for the coronavirus and the millions of people who have died because of it. The interest of BC clearly lies in appealing to the privileged overseers of the university, ones who are too shrouded in their own selfishness to notice the inequalities that the pandemic has brought about and its effect on underrepresented communities.

Additionally, BC claims to be “mindful of the mental health of our campus community and sensitive to minimizing COVID-19-related anxieties.” BC’s relation with mental health issues has been lacking, as many students claim to have been left on hold for hours with University Counseling Services and some have outright detailed the incompetence of their services on the rare occasion that BC provides help. 

How then, will BC attempt to rid themselves of this disregard for mental health issues? Certainly, many students, especially ones with anxiety surrounding COVID, have found comfort in weekly testing, knowing that the University is watchful of almost all of its students and has contained the virus well. Now, with this new policy in place, students are left uncertain about who may have the virus. While that may not cause too much trouble in an almost fully-vaccinated community, what happens when one goes home for spring break, unknowing of the school’s COVID numbers, and they must decide if they should visit their 92-year-old grandfather or play it safe by missing out on what could be their last time together?

BC needs to acknowledge that this campus is not in and of itself. We are not the end-all-be-all, and we need to start caring for the communities around us. What about students in PULSE who could expose a classful of children? What about professors who go home every day with the risk of exposing their family and greater community? How can Boston College embody its motto of “Men and Women for Others” when it chooses to turn its back on a deadly virus?

Ending the pandemic involves active participation in prevention, not passive negligence. We should continue testing to know when to be more cautious or to know that we are finally reaching the true end of the pandemic. This end will not be marked by an administrative decision; it will come about through a triumphant, statistical realization of the final flattening of the COVID curve. Until then, we should continue monitoring the virus and its effects, and we should take the measures necessary, which may even mean wearing such a burdening thing as a mask, in order to finally beat the virus that has affected all of our lives. BC’s newest COVID policy will prove detrimental to its students, faculty, staff, and the greater community, and it will only present us with a selfish sense of fake normalcy that will do nothing to truly end the pandemic.

Spends too much time on crossword puzzles. Can make a mean chocolate chip pancake. Proponent of eating the casing on brie.