Letter: Dear Student Activities Center and university administration


Letter writer Vivian Cook urges Iowa State to withhold holding in-person events and abide by social distancing guidelines. 

Vivian Cook

I received an email this past week inviting me to ISU AfterDark, and I am very surprised and disappointed to see that this and other university-sponsored gatherings are taking place in-person this semester. Although COVID-19 mitigation strategies are being implemented for this event, these strategies do not adhere to recent federal and public health guidelines for Ames and Iowa, including avoiding large social gatherings and ensuring strict physical distancing for any in-person interactions.

In fact, these first weeks of the semester (and the weeks preceding) have seen multiple examples of Iowa State University administration showing a disregard for public health research — a disregard that is especially disturbing coming from a research institution. There have been multiple in-person events that are university-sponsored or approved that have already taken place or have been publicized.

And, at this point, there have been a plethora of reports confirming that the 50 percent capacity rule that is being followed for classrooms and other university spaces is not the same as ensuring a 6-foot minimum distance between each person; the new Iowa State COVID-19 Policy on Student Social Gatherings requires 6-foot distancing at all gatherings of students.

Iowa State is breaking its own social gatherings policy every day. While students are being threatened with disciplinary action if they break this policy, how will the Iowa State administration be disciplined for putting the lives of so many in danger? 

I ask you to please reconsider holding ISU AfterDark in-person on any Friday, as well as all other gatherings that disregard public health research and break the university’s own rules. I echo one of my fellow students who recently submitted a letter to the Iowa State Daily in urging Iowa State administrators to set examples for their students to follow and to recognize that the outbreaks in this community can and will be traced to the poor decisions that this university has made in reopening.

Vivian Cook is a graduate student in sustainable agriculture and community development.