Opinion: NYU is right to reopen campus

In light of the rapidly declining omicron numbers and a high vaccination rate, NYU made the right decision to drop certain COVID-19 restrictions.

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Manasa Gudavalli

In light of rapidly declining omicron numbers and a high vaccination rate, NYU is easing its COVID-19 guidelines and policies. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Alexandra Cohen, Staff Writer

I imagined the start of college looking more like season four of “Gilmore Girls” and less like “Grey’s Anatomy.” I dreamed of developing a cafeteria crush, sitting indoors and talking to my friends, not carrying sad containers of dining hall food to the common area of my suite. But I began my college career during a pandemic, in a world where Zoom has replaced human interaction. There is a health crisis, and NYU was justified in taking all the necessary precautions; but in light of declining positivity rates, removing the overbearing COVID-19 rules will only make for a safer NYU — one where students aren’t rebelling in order to chat with a friend over a meal. 

Each building entrance requires a properly worn surgical mask — unless it’s layered — and a screenshot of that day’s Daily Screener. How was that enough insurance to sit in a 200-student lecture hall, but not enough for WSN’s decidedly smaller staff to meet masked in-person? Eating a meal with up to four friends from my residence hall poses a much higher risk than eating in a supervised cafeteria, especially since the latter require masks and a Daily Screener. 

Palladium’s gym was closed to all of NYU except for student athletes — because apparently being on a Division III athletic team lowers the probability of transmitting COVID-19. Additionally, students living on campus were only able to visit other students within their own residence hall — thereby ensuring that COVID-19, too, stayed in its own dorm. The relaxing of the once-strict guidelines will hopefully instill a greater sense of unity on campus, as we will no longer be restricted to our residence and lecture halls

The New York City and NYU COVID-19 test positivity rates have gone down, which justifies easing these restrictions. NYU has made the right move in removing certain guidelines — although I don’t appreciate the administration announcing Palladium Athletic Facility’s reopening only hours after I signed up for Equinox. As of Jan. 30, 99% of NYU’s students, faculty and employees are fully vaccinated. We are armed with the best protection against the virus, which has the potential to persist much longer than we ever could have anticipated, and alongside which we must learn to exist in person.

NYU has made the best move for our physical and mental health. In-person gatherings will have far more supervision than informal dorm and apartment gatherings that took place over the past few weeks. Let’s be honest — nobody is requiring a Daily Screener to visit their apartment. NYU will once again become a campus without walls, where only a fraction of collegiate learning happens in the classroom. Now, we’ll get to fully immerse ourselves in the college experience, meeting with clubs and friends without the limitations of a Zoom screen

This new freedom is not something we should take for granted. We must continue to stay safe to keep the university open. Although I poke fun at NYU’s specific anti-cloth mask stance, NYU is right that KN95 and KF94 masks are more effective. And although 15 minutes of indoor dining 6 feet apart doesn’t sound like a great victory, it’s better than eating out of wasteful containers in your dorm room alone. The administration is rewarding our efforts in slowing the spread, so let’s keep the momentum going. These new guidelines will hopefully make our college experiences a little less isolating, so let’s revel in our newfound unity and work hard to keep NYU safe. 

Contact Alexandra Cohen at [email protected]