This past week, I was notified that one of my close friends had tested positive for COVID-19. In sheer panic, my roommates and I rushed to Witherspoon Student Center first thing in the morning to get tested. But when we got there, we saw the line outside of Witherspoon was wrapped around Dan Allen Drive. I was in shock to see so many students lined up just to receive a COVID-19 test. The University claims to put their students' safety and health as a top priority, but the line in front of Witherspoon paints a different picture.
The only conveniently located place to get a COVID-19 test is Witherspoon Student Center. According to the University’s testing protocols, there are only seven functioning testing locations for all 34,015 students who attend NC State. While seven may seem like plenty, they don’t function at the same capacity or convenience, with many of them even closing at odd times.
None of these testing centers are open on the weekends, which is when most students have time to get their weekly tests, and two locations are only open once a week. In addition to this, all testing ends by 2 p.m. on Friday, which is once again when a lot of students have started wrapping up their week and it would be easier for them to schedule their COVID-19 test. It’s incredibly obvious that the University has cut back on its investment in testing and COVID-19 resources for its students.
Having convenient testing locations is essential to protecting our campus from COVID-19. Last semester, for a very short period of time, there was walk-up and drive-up testing available at the Dan Allen parking deck. This made it extremely convenient for those living in student apartments on Hillsborough Street to walk up and get tested on their way to class. In addition to this, those who would prefer to not wait in long lines can drive up and get tested.
Testing ideas and locations like these are what encourage students to get tested if they have been exposed to COVID-19. It’s easy for students to say they don’t want to or don’t have the time to get tested after getting exposed to the disease simply because of how long the lines are at Witherspoon and other testing locations. The lack of effort and care portrayed by the University in regards to COVID-19 creates a similar pattern within the student body.
According to NC State’s testing protocols, only students who are unvaccinated are required to get tested weekly. In order to prove your vaccination status to the University, you must upload a copy of your vaccine card to your HealthyPack Portal. However, many students who uploaded their vaccine cards were still required to get tested simply because the University was unable to verify them in time. Students who were fully vaccinated were still required to wait in testing lines because the University didn’t invest enough resources into making sure that vaccination statuses were approved. Making vaccinated students wait in line for a test that they don’t even need takes away testing opportunities from those who may genuinely be running the risk of COVID-19.
NC State’s shortcomings in COVID-19 testing and safety this semester are reflective of an attitude that’s being displayed across the country at this moment. Far too many people are treating this pandemic like it’s a thing of the past. I’m here to say that it’s not. People are still losing their lives, hospitals are still overwhelmed and imminent risks are still present.
When large institutions such as NC State display a lack of effort and care for this pandemic, it encourages and even justifies the lack of care seen in the student body. Students can’t be expected to take the pandemic seriously when the University itself has stopped trying. NC State must take this situation more seriously and so should the student body.