One Student's Response to the Carolina Roadmap

Melinda McCabe
UNC-Chapel Hill Student

I’ve been greatly impressed with UNC-Chapel Hill’s communication and problem-solving skills when it comes to getting students back on campus in the fall. Chancellor Guskiewicz regularly sends campus-wide emails with the latest information, and the administration has created the Carolina Roadmap to guide students’and faculty’s return. UNC’s status as a leader in research to combat COVID-19 only adds to my level of comfort.

The rules of engagement are nothing out of the ordinary, at least for those of us who have been following WHO and CDC guidelines for mitigating COVID-19 spread. Masks will be required of all students and faculty at all times, and buildings will become “one-way,” with clearly designated entrances and exits. These small inconveniences seem like a minimal price to pay for the greater good of public health. I’d much rather have my classes in-person or “mask to mask” than alone from my childhood bedroom. To me, some part of UNC is better than no UNC at all. 

I am more concerned, however, with the student body’s collective decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines. While wearing masks may be enforceable, limiting off-campus gatherings will not (without a staunch violation of privacy and norms, a violation that may be warranted given the circumstances). UNC consists largely of undergraduate students who are 18-22, students who are not necessarily known for their fully developed frontal lobes and premier decision-making capabilities. I, and many of my peers, often think of myself as invincible. But this virus has proved that no one is immune, and it will be up to the student body to sacrifice our short-term plans and fun for the long-term common good.

While many undergraduate students may not be at high risk for COVID-19 complications, this is not necessarily the case for elderly faculty, the town of Chapel Hill at large, and immunocompromised students. The actions of undergraduates will impact these vulnerable groups, and I worry about our collective ability to prioritize public health. I believe UNC’s return to campus in the fall will be a great test of our ability to adapt and organize, but I trust the administration to lead the fight.


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