“I have read people say, kind of cynical people I think, young people won’t do it, College students won’t do it. They will not stop partying.”
On the 21st of August the UT Knoxville YouTube channel uploaded a video of Chancellor Plowman addressing her student body. This video is meant to reassure students that she believes in us, and that she thinks that we can make this work.
What she does not acknowledge is the fact that these ‘cynical people’ are the student body she’s trying to ‘inspire’.
To be fair, I see where she’s coming from. There is not one person in this generation that I know who is not sick of older generations thinking we are too lazy or entitled to care for others. If you want to pander, this is a good way to do it, especially for ‘cynical’ people.
What this message fails to realize is that those cynics are not the ones who need to be inspired to follow the guidelines. The students who need to be inspired are the ones who do not care, as the consequences don’t have real impact for them.
I am one of those ‘cynical’ people who does not think that is going to work. I would love to be proved wrong, but I cannot afford to be optimistic when it could have dire consequences for those I care about.
What I do not think the chancellor is taking into account is the very real lived experiences of the students she is supposed to serve.
I am currently lucky enough to have all online classes, however one of my roommates isn’t so lucky. The problem is, I am now exposed to the campus environment even if I don’t set foot on campus at all this semester. I also have to work, and so does my roommate, which means we are both at a bigger risk of being infected.
We have been told that there will be consequences for students who do not adhere to guidelines, and that these students could get expelled. This would be great, if this was not a virus with a two week incubation period. By the time these students are facing consequences students who are immunocompromised will also be facing consequences of the now-expelled-student. If it were me, and my life was now on the line, I would not be happy with that student simply being expelled.
I am so scared to go home, my brother has asthma, my dad just beat cancer, and my mom was a smoker for so many years. If I brought COVID-19 home, and someone in my family passed away because someone who had the virus decided to come out and not isolate, Chancellor Plowman expelling them would mean nothing to me.
That doesn’t bring my family back.
Risking students’ lives, their families lives, and other citizens of Knoxville, so the university can play football and make money from that is horribly unethical. This chancellor has lost a lot of my respect even bringing us back to campus. If she keeps us here, she will not be redeemable.
If anyone at UT dies, their blood is on her hands.
Rainey Dinsmore is a student at UT-Knoxville