Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday that a statewide curfew would take effect Thursday, and extend for the next three weeks. This new COVID-19 policy comes after cases in Ohio have tripled in the last few weeks and a warning from DeWine last week that colleges and universities in the state may need to cancel in-person operations this spring if cases in Ohio continue to increase exponentially.
Although we appreciate the governor’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, we believe these policies alone are not enough. COVID-19 policy is more crucial than individual behavior, but when the policy falls short we must turn to each other for guidance. It is up to members of individual communities — including students and faculty on university campuses — to do their part in ensuring public safety.
Up until now, the number of positive cases on Kenyon’s campus has been very low, and that is no doubt due — at least in part — to our community’s commitment to keeping each other safe. But maintaining public health during a pandemic is about more than social distancing and wearing a face covering. It is also about protecting each other’s mental health by trying extra hard to do the things we have always done: being kind to one another and giving each other the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
Because of the exceptional circumstances posed by the virus, COVID-19 has isolated many of us from our friends, leaving us lonely and without our usual support structures in a time when we need it most. As much as the world feels like a lonely place right now, we shouldn’t let COVID-19 deter us from coming together as a community. This can be accomplished through even the smallest acts of compassion, like calling your first-year roommate or sincerely asking your professors how they are doing.
A supportive community is also an effective deterrent to those tempted to break COVID-19 rules. One of the most difficult aspects of living through a pandemic is that we are expected to remain physically distant from our friends and socialize in person less frequently. This is even more difficult in a close-knit community like Kenyon’s. However, if we are proactive about offering each other the support we need, students will feel less tempted to break protocol by attending unsafe gatherings.
Kenyon is unique among its peer, liberal arts institutions in that its remote location fosters a tight-knit sense of community. If there is one community strong enough to weather the storm that is COVID-19, it is Kenyon’s. If the community is going to get through this difficult time — both the last week of the in-person semester and the pandemic as a whole — it will be by working together to support one another.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Mae Hunt ’21 and Evey Weisblat ’21, managing editor Sophie Krichevsky ’21 and executive director Elizabeth Stanley ’21. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.