Why is the Admissions Department allowed to bend the rules regarding large groups?

By The Spartan Editorial Board

ON Saturday, March 19, York College Admissions Department hosted the first of two Accepted Students Days. Before the event, there were around 600 people registered; on the day of, 226 students came. Including their guests, there were an estimated 700 total people in attendance.

The second one will be held Saturday, April 9.

Accepted Students Day is a big day for the college. This is when all the students who are accepted for the upcoming school year are invited to campus to meet the professors, see the residence halls, and hear firsthand from students about what it is like to attend York College.

York College Admissions describes the event on their website:

“Our Accepted Student Day is designed to get you excited for your first day as a York College Spartan! Join us on campus and get the information you need to take the next steps with York. Meet with Admissions Staff, current students, and departments across campus! This day is all about YOU and making sure you are fully prepared for your first day.”

This Accepted Students Day was particularly important as it was the first time in two years that the college was able to host the event in person.

With such a big event, you would assume there would be precautions to keep the student body safe, but to our knowledge there weren’t. The attending families came from a variety of places and weren’t required to do any form of symptom tracker beforehand or temperature check upon arrival. They weren’t required to wear a mask while they sat in the gym – shoulder to shoulder – to listen to President Dr. Pamela Gunther-Smith speak. Since it was the Saturday before the college dropped its mask mandate in classrooms, the guests were still required to wear masks in classes; however, it was not consistently enforced.

In addition, there was no prior warning as to how many guests would be in attendance and given to the approximately 60 student workers and volunteers.

This wasn’t the first occasion that the Admissions Department was allowed to bypass the college’s COVID guidelines and restrictions.

At the beginning of the semester, students were required to submit their vaccination status or a negative test result. They weren’t allowed visitors in residence halls, not even fellow YCP students, and were restricted to meeting in groups under 25 people. The college’s mask mandate was also strictly abided by for all students and faculty.

But at the exact same time, the Admissions Department was permitted to bring tour groups of up to 35 people into the occupied residence halls. These guests weren’t required to do any form of symptom checker before arrival.

During the first two weeks when students weren’t allowed to gather in big groups, there was an open house with more than 500 people in attendance. To keep people “safer,” Admissions decided to cut the opening speeches and, instead, invited all of the guests to the upper lobby of Grumbacher Sports and Fitness Center for mingling and refreshments. The lobby is much smaller than Wolfe Gym – where speeches normally occur – and provides less room for social distancing. As a result, people were still extremely close to each other and were not wearing masks.

To keep the student workers and volunteers safer, they were handed KN-95 masks to wear throughout the day’s event. However, this raised the question: Was this truly to keep them safe or was it a performative act for the guests?

Student Ambassadors during the February 15 Open House (Taken from York College Admissions’ Instagram)

Over the course of the open house, there were approximately 300 people who went in and out of residence halls, all while students weren’t allowed to go into their friend’s room.

This is extremely frustrating for the students who work for Admissions because they witness firsthand the school breaking its own rules. Additionally, they are required to lead tours of people who might have been in contact with somebody infected with COVID, making them feel extremely unsafe at times.

When searching for photos of any of these events, there seemed to be a lack of documentation of the activities or any of the people in attendance that gives the impression that the college doesn’t want anybody to know how many people were actually there.

If York College is going to make rules to keep its students and faculty safe, everyone should have to follow them, even the Admissions Department. Admissions shouldn’t be an exception on the basis that the college wants higher enrollment. A true effort of keeping people safe wold have been holding off on tours for the first two weeks and pushing back large events such as the first open house until everyone, including students, were allowed to be in large groups again.

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