On September 20, President Wendy Raymond and Interim Dean of the College Joyce Bylander announced that Haverford would revert to Level 1 of the Bi-Co Mitigation Plan. The campus initially moved to Level 2 on September 13, in response to student gatherings that flouted COVID-19 guidelines. However, after disclosing that students had been reprimanded for unsafe behavior and citing the community’s adherence to the Level 2 guidelines during the past weekend, President Raymond and Dean Bylander deemed a return to Level 1 to be safe.
The initial move to Level 2 was not without controversy. Many students, including Katie Hughes ’22, who penned an opinion piece for The Clerk, felt the switch was unjustified—penalizing the entire community for the actions of a few. After all, despite the shift to Level 2, the campus did not engage in additional surveillance testing, a crucial part of the college’s Mitigation Plan.
Yet others welcomed the college’s decision, viewing it as necessary to ensure students’ safety. As Nathan Wolthuis ‘21 said bluntly: “The way that students were acting was reckless and irresponsible. Moving to Level 2 was necessary and the only surprise is that it ended so soon.”
The consequences of Level 2 were perhaps felt most acutely by commuter students, who could only visit campus for classes. But on-campus students were also impacted—particularly those who needed to run errands nearby.
“I would say that life under Level 2 was frustrating,” said Sally Pearson ’21 over Facebook Messenger. “It was confusing that the consequence of partying was that I couldn’t do activities that have absolutely nothing to do with partying or gathering—going on runs off-campus, printing readings in the library, getting to the Apple Store to fix my broken laptop, etc.” Despite this, Pearson thought campus “felt the same” under the restrictions.
In a community-wide email, President Raymond explained that there would be consequences faced by those whose actions broke community guidelines last weekend. “Students have received one-time-only formal warnings in connection with unsafe behavior and have promised to adhere to the rules going forward,” she wrote.
Although details are sparse, the reprimands appear to be in line with Haverford’s COVID Policy, which Dean Bylander emailed to all students on September 3.
“When addressing violations of the College’s COVID-19 policies, the first approach will be educational […] In situations where a student may have accidentally, unintentionally, or carelessly violated a COVID-19 policy, which could put other members of the Haverford community in greater risk, they will be reminded of the Be Safe COVID-19 policies, Haverford’s Honor Code, the Community Engagement Agreement, and encouraged to reflect on how their behavior may be impacting Haverford’s commitment to the common good,” reads the policy.
However, further action by the administration may be more severe: “Students who engage in conduct in deliberate, reckless, or repeated disregard of the COVID-19 policy or the Community Engagement Agreement will have forfeited the privilege to be a member of this community. They may be subject to separation from the college.”
President Raymond further noted that a number of students had permanently left campus—either to live in off-campus housing or to move home—and thanked them “for taking the time to reflect and act in a way consistent with our concern for oneself and others.”
Yet for some, the move off-campus had little to do with the college’s warning and everything to do with the uncertainty the past week had fostered.
“Once we went to Phase 2, on-campus life became too uncertain,” said Max Mondress ’23, who moved to Wynnewood this past weekend. “I felt isolated and anxious about getting sent home. I had to go somewhere stable so I could focus on my schoolwork and take care of my health.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article wrote that “students had been sanctioned for unsafe behavior.” To avoid ambiguity, this sentence has been edited.