After a long wait, Orange Coast College's on-campus student housing, The Harbour has opened. But at what cost?
The original move-in date was pushed a month back to Sept. 25 after a labor strike declared by Local 636 Southern California Glaziers Union forced many students to live in temporary housing at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa and at student housing at University House Fullerton. In return for their struggles, OCC is offering students a reduced pay rate, but it’s unsafe to be living in the student housing or even the temporary housing to begin with in these pandemic times.
So why the rush to fill The Harbour when it is difficult to enforce social distancing among students? It’s not that OCC isn’t taking precautions with COVID. The Harbour stated that they will implement heightened safety protocols for cleaning spaces shared by students as well as follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control, but that might not be enough. Currently, The Harbour allows no more than two students per apartment for “reasonable social distance,” but that might not be the right plan of action.
University of California-Davis is handling their social distanced housing differently by only allowing one student per dorm and are only permitted one person to accompany them in their dorm for moving, which might sound extreme, but extreme just might be more effective in these times.
As of Sept. 13, OCC faced 21 positive or suspected positive COVID cases on campus, and while eight of those twenty-one cases turned out to be negative, that really shouldn’t be a risk that students should take to live on campus this semester.
All classes are online, and more than likely, the spring 2021 semester is going to be online as well. Students will be living on campus, but they’ll be taking all of their classes online, which might just defeat the point of being on campus altogether. And while other colleges are bringing students to live on campus during this pandemic, it’s caused outbreaks across the country. For example, San Diego State University has had 1,072 confirmed cases as of September 27th, with 385 of those cases connected to students living on campus.
COVID-19 is a genuine safety issue, and if students are going to be coming to live on campus, they should be able to return to a safe campus that OCC can guarantee.