Three days after Chicago Thinker writer Jahmiel Jackson spearheaded a pressure campaign for the University of Chicago to end its harmful, unscientific residence hall rules, UChicago rolled back its COVID madness.
On Friday, January 21, UChicago’s “Housing and Residence Life” declared that residence hall study spaces, community kitchens, and lounges were closed in the name of COVID. Now, in a statement released this Thursday to all students living in housing, the university announced that “Beginning tomorrow, Friday, February 4th at 5:30 PM, inter-hall visitation privileges will be restored.” The university further promised it will “aim to open community kitchens later this month.”
It remains unclear whether the university will also be reopening residence hall study spaces and lounges. In a phone call with UChicago “Housing and Residence Life,” a representative told the Thinker that the potential reopening of student lounges is “depend[ent] on the nature of that space or size.”
UChicago’s dorm update follows a Chicago Thinker movement led by Jackson, campaigning for the university to return to normalcy and stop defrauding students out of the traditional dorm experience. Indeed, a little over a week after the university announced its strict new dorm rules, Jackson penned a passionate op-ed condemning these restrictions for being unenforceable for resident dean assistants, like him, and detrimental to the mental health of students.
“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.”
On Tuesday, NBC Chicago ran a TV segment on Jackson’s article. In his interview with NBC Chicago, Jackson argued the university’s policy was nonsensical, given that nearly 100% of students are vaccinated and boosted for COVID and the university is not experiencing a COVID outbreak.
Jackson also pointed out that student living in housing 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.
Gerald McSwiggan, UChicago’s Assistant Director for Public Affairs (who is still ignoring the Chicago Thinker’s request for comment on a discriminatory dining hall policy) said in a statement to NBC Chicago that the university is “monitoring conditions with experts from UChicago Medicine to see when conditions will allow some additional precautions to be rolled back…” McSwiggan added that the school would “provide an update on February 4 once [they] have more data about infections on campus.”
As promised in the statement provided to NBC Chicago, and following Jackson’s article and interview, the university has officially “roll[ed] back” the residence hall COVID madness and is now allowing students to visit each other once again.
“Open up our campus,” said Jackson in his NBC Chicago interview. “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].” With its latest update, it seems the university may finally be listening to Jackson.
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.