For an institution that prides itself on its inclusivity and pro humanitate mindset, Wake Forest has done a poor job meeting students’ needs when it comes to continued COVID-19 protection.
It is hypocritical for this school to be eager promoters of a vaccine mandate and continued indoor mask requirements while simultaneously failing to offer proper, short-term housing amenities to international students and mental health coverage to the entirety of the student body.
The fact of the matter is this: the pandemic has highlighted a variety of flaws in the day-to-day functioning of Wake Forest.
We are not out of the era of COVID-19 yet, so why are we attempting to return to business as usual or — even worse — diminish the cushion and safety net that existed for students before?
Last winter break, international students were able to remain in Winston-Salem in the “quarantine hotels”, as it was impossible for the majority of them to travel in and out of the United States.
But that luxury is no longer an option, as the school is not currently offering any hotel housing.
This year, nearly 400 international students are in the same predicament due to the mandatory quarantine periods of their country of origin and of the United States, yet Wake Forest is unable to offer housing to them. Could Wake Forest Housing not offer a stipend to ease the financial and emotional burden of scrambling to find a one-month lease through Airbnb? Why was this housing issue not publicized earlier?
But housing is not the only issue that has fallen to the wayside amidst this continued pandemic. Mental health care coverage on campus has fallen to a new low with the announcement of UCC’s new single-session model going public less than two weeks ago. Now, students seem to be expected to cope with increased and continuing stress, anxiety, depression, disordered eating and a number of other mental health issues in one to four sessions.
Not only does this sound unsustainable for counselors and students, but it also does not sound just. Offering a free or discounted subscription to online counseling services such as Better Help would be more logical and equitable.
Wake Forest must do better in offering continued help and guidance to those impacted by COVID-19 through policy and direct action. Wake Forest needs to live by the pro humanitate mantra that is etched into so many bricks, yet not vocalized in many of its policies.