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An Open Letter to Students Moving to Claremont in the Spring

At the time of writing this, Los Angeles has zero percent I.C.U. capacity. Roughly 1 in 5 people in Los Angeles County have been infected with COVID-19. The state of California cannot handle the number of bodies from COVID-19 related fatalities. Concurrently, more students than last semester are planning on moving to Claremont and the greater Los Angeles area for the spring semester.

Donnie Denome and Becca Zimmerman of TSL wrote on why students shouldn’t move back to Claremont. Uma Nagarajan-Swenson of TSL warned of the tragedy that could come with irresponsibility. Despite their dire pleas, people aren’t listening.

There are several reasons students are moving back to Southern California. Their mental health might be suffering at home. Time zones might conflict with classes. First-generation and low-income students might struggle to succeed in online school at home.

I understand the frustration that comes with remote learning, especially for first-years. They were robbed of the freshman experience; the first taste of being on their own. They missed WOA, their first Toga party and Collin’s late-night snack. They simply missed having their first year on campus.

Many of us are lonely and fatigued. Even so, every single student moving to SoCal this semester has a moral obligation to be safe and responsible. Young people can still have fatal symptoms. A quick Google search of “college student dies from COVID” shows us the grim reality that active and young people can die from complications.

Even if you don't have severe symptoms, you will still impact the surrounding community. You might unknowingly spread the virus to a grocery store cashier, or a fellow shopper that takes care of elderly parents. A brief exchange with someone in the Village might mean that they infect their whole family. There is so much at stake.

Failing to recognize the responsibility that we have to keep ourselves and the community safe stems from a position of privilege. It is an attack on working-class families and communities of color that are especially suffering during the pandemic. Spreading this virus will cause more unprecedented death and destruction.

Several students tested positive for COVID-19 this past fall semester, including from Halloween parties in Claremont. It’s clear that some are not being responsible guests in the community.

Many have already signed leases and are on their way to move into their apartments. This week, Dean of Students Dianna “DT” Graves noted, “Thus far, just over 800 students have provided a spring address. Among those, nearly half plan to live in southern California, and around 200 plan to live in or within 4 miles of Claremont. It is critical that students familiarize themselves with and follow the public health guidelines in their community.”

It is futile to expect that people won’t move to Claremont. We attend a school that prides itself on integrity and social responsibility. Do better.


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