Chicago Thinker writer Jahmiel Jackson condemned the University of Chicago’s strict, anti-science COVID restrictions for the residence halls during an NBC Chicago interview on Wednesday. “Open up our campus,” said Jackson. “It’s time that our university becomes a model for asking questions and setting the trend, instead of just following after the city [of Chicago].”
Jackson’s interview was the result of a recent Chicago Thinker article, in which he explained that UChicago has closed down study spaces, community kitchens, and lounges in the dorms due to COVID. The school has even banned students from visiting each other’s dorm rooms.
Jackson, who is a resident dean assistant (RDA), stated in his article that the rules are “unfair to RDAs like me because they are nearly impossible to enforce.”
“I did not sign up to police every single social interaction of my students, nor do I want to, given the mental toll COVID isolation has had on young people,” wrote Jackson. “I fear for the well-being of my students. They are being cheated out of the full dorm experience for which they paid, and they are being bullied into seclusion by the university.”
During the interview, Jackson pointed out that nearly 100% of students are vaccinated and boosted for COVID. Moreover, the university is not experiencing a COVID outbreak.
Jackson added that students are charged a fee of $1,707 a quarter to cover amenities and social events. Yet, since the start of the pandemic, students have had no access to amenities and have been forced out of many in-person social events, as well. Despite these restrictions, students this year are being charged the same $1,707 fee as charged before the pandemic.
“I have to ask the question,” said Jackson, “why are we still paying the same amount when the product isn’t being delivered?”
Gerald McSwiggan, UChicago’s assistant director for public affairs, has still not responded to the Chicago Thinker’s questions regarding a discriminatory UChicago COVID dining hall policy. However, McSwiggan was able to find time to respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.
In a statement to NBC Chicago regarding Jackson’s article, McSwiggan wrote that the university is “monitoring conditions with experts from UChicago Medicine to see when conditions will allow some additional precautions to be rolled back…”
According to McSwiggan, and perhaps due to Jackson’s article, the university has promised to “provide an update on February 4 once [they] have more data about infections on campus.”
However, as Jackson pointed out to NBC Chicago, the campus should already be free from oppressive COVID rules, given the school’s extremely low COVID case rate and its exceptionally high vaccination rate. “If we can’t get back to normal now,” said Jackson, “it just begs the question: when will we be able to?”
Evita Duffy is the Chicago Thinker's Managing Editor. As a senior at the University of Chicago, she studies American History and Creative Writing. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, & her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1 or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.