Does Furman Trust Us?
When students signed the Paladin Promise prior to arriving on campus, little was known about the true nature of the COVID-19 guidelines or the ramifications that would ensue should they be broken. The strict rules students discovered upon returning to Furman are hardly reflective of the vague details included in the Promise and the emails we received before move-in day. In many students’ opinions, Furman’s confidence in preserving community amidst the pandemic is being overshadowed by strict rules, anonymous student reporting, and a sense of disconnection rather than unity.
It was only when belongings were unpacked, beds were made, and parents were driving away that reality set in. Suddenly, the Furman Focused emails contained an extensive list of prohibitions: no groups over four in a dorm, no parties larger than eight, and limited visitation between campus housing complexes. Students were even discouraged from eating with anyone other than three decided upon students for the entirety of the semester. The timing of this information’s release does not appear to be coincidental. Furman had to have known that these restrictions would not go over well – why else would they have waited to reveal the underlying particulars of the guidelines?
We now find ourselves separated, isolated and lonely. This is not the college experience we envisioned, nor the one Furman promised some semblance of in August. The regulations of the Paladin Promise are far more extensive and restrictive than advertised. The Furman campus experience now feels more like middle school. We are not children, and Furman knows this. Why else would they have entrusted us with the choice to stay on campus? An email from Furman Focused states, “Our plan to maintain a healthy and safe campus is sound. It now rests in the hands of our students and employees…” Furman claims that they are handing over the responsibility of protecting our campus to the students. However, despite being asked to act like adults to keep the school safe, we are shouldering rules that make many of us feel juvenile. The rules set in place make it feel as though this is what is needed of us – to not go out, hang out with friends or even eat with someone new. We are asked to be responsible, yet Furman regulates us to no end. We all want to stay on campus, and most in person students are doing what they can to keep themselves and others safe. We are holding each other accountable, which is far more productive than harsh rules being pushed on us like children.
By bringing us back to school with these excessive restrictions in place, the Furman administration has robbed us of much of the consistent and meaningful social interaction needed to thrive in a college environment. While times are tough, and the guidelines are intended to protect our campus community and keep us together through the entirety of the semester, Furman has unnecessarily burdened its students. It appears that the administration is fumbling with the task of balancing the importance of safety and quality of student life.
Furman knew that the guidelines being put in place were extremely harsh and may not be tolerated easily, otherwise they would not have been so reluctant to release them. And what do students say about the guidelines themselves? Many believe that the rules are extreme and unreasonable, and the administration knows this. They just expect us to follow them anyway.