Illinois State University President Larry Dietz gave the annual university address Thursday and the one of the main topics of the hour was how COVID-19 has impacted Illinois State University.
Tuesday evening, YouTube’s Nelk threw a party at The Lodge with over hundreds of students attending not wearing masks or social distancing showing a blatant disregard of ignoring the guidelines for their and other lives.
Dietz, ISU Police and Normal PD are investigating and looking into giving consequences that could impact those students' academic standing at Illinois State.
A month ago in the welcome back message, Dietz addressed students by saying what they do off campus directly impacts on-campus and the surrounding community. He also mentioned how the university can only do so much when students are off-campus.
Which in all hindsight is understandable. But why is the university and town just now stepping in to huge off-campus gatherings after multiple parties have been held at The Lodge?
If the university really wants to hunker down and make sure COVID-cases aren’t causing a huge spike in McLean County, the university had the power a month ago to reprimand students and leasing companies for not doing more on their part.
Dietz does discuss those who are doing their part in keeping themselves and the community safe. For the most part Dietz says, students do “act as good citizens.” He urges those who fail to follow “can and must do better” in limiting COVID exposure and potentially spreading it. The blatant disregard some students continue to have is disheartening to the rest of the community who are doing their best to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Dietz also goes on to mention how news reporting is suggesting that ISU compares poorly to other Illinois public universities in regard to COVID response. He says not nearly as much testing is being done and transparently being reported compared to ISU.
But how many of the same students are getting retested multiple times at the on-campus testing sites? What about the students who go out to the Interstate center? Those numbers from other testing sites don’t show back up in ISU case count.
Students are able to get tested as many times as they need at the on-campus testing sites which helps find the positive cases but how many students aren’t getting tested? Why isn’t getting tested so many times a week required for every student?
Dietz also mentions how he needs to “walk the talk”, especially as the university’s president about diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. Part of his role “includes speaking out” for those demanding change on campus. Not only should Dietz be speaking out but should help bring change on campus with the position of power he has. When change is demanded, the change starts at the top. Change is an ongoing process but needs to continue to happen across the university. It doesn’t stop when just one thing is changed.
Dietz also mentions the change of Watterson floor names. Right now, the names are North A or South A. Here’s a suggestion, maybe rename the floors of Watterson after ISU graduates who went to demand change and made an impact across different entities. As the university continues to face adversity, Dietz holds hope that ISU will continue to face the change head on and come out successful and that Redbirds will rise to to challenge.