Chancellor Blank calls for undergrads to restrict movement, students respond with criticism.

  • Post Author
    by News director
  • Post Date
    Mon Sep 07 2020
UW-Madison has assisted students' transition into the semester by providing reusable masks, on-campus testing and hand sanitizing stations. Photo courtesy of UW-Madison's Instagram, @uwmadison.

Authors: Cailyn Schiltz, Jessica Gregory

Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent an email to UW-Madison students today asking all undergraduates to restrict movement and severely limit in-person interaction for two weeks. 

The lockdown begins today at 5:00 p.m. and will be lifted Monday, Sept. 21 at 5:00 p.m. Until then, undergrad students are directed to only leave their residences for medical care, purchasing food, individual outdoor activities, religious observances, and in-person classes. 

Some students find it hypocritical of the university to ask undergrads to not leave their residences less than one week after fall classes began.

“@UWMadison ordering you to stay at home but still telling you to go to class so they can collect your tuition,” student Philip Klinker tweeted. “@BeckyBlank you are a [clown]”

Chancellor Blank says in-person classes have not posed any COVID-19 transmission concerns so far. 

The university will support the two-week lockdown by cancelling university-sponsored social events and registered student organization meetings. They instead may direct some virtually. UW-Madison will also close recreational facilities and ban visitors from residence halls. 

She cites off-campus living and parties as the main cause of the immense spike in positive cases, according to an email sent to all undergrads. Since on-campus testing began August 6, there have been 605 positive cases.

Chancellor Blank emphasizes that students will be held accountable with consequences up to emergency suspension. Students are encouraged to report each other's “unsafe behavior” through an online portal

Chancellor Blank is not naive to some students' partying and bar-hopping the past few weeks. She pleads for change, starting with abiding by the university's new direction to restrict non-essential movement.

“The virus can not be controlled without each of us modifying our normal behavior. Until there is a vaccine, we must behave in a way that recognizes the threat that it poses,” Chancellor Blank stated. 

Students seem more concerned about the university's “unsafe behavior” and unclear motives rather than individual's actions. 

“Ah yes, they made everyone come back to campus and live in [two-person] dorm rooms and it's our fault,” student Dom Maderal tweeted. “How many people will die because @BeckyBlank wants to keep her $600,000 salary this semester?”

“This is a joke. We watched numerous large universities open and have the same result,” PhD student Robbie Manuel tweeted. 

Universities across the nation such as the University of Michigan, Stanford, and Penn State suspended in-person instruction long ago, according to CNN.

UW-Madison seems to hold out hope for a normal spring semester, but places the responsibility on students.

“There are entire fields of research dedicated to understanding *and respecting* the imperfections of human behavior in order to mitigate their negative repercussions,” alum Caitlin Murphy tweeted. “It's beyond me how this institution continues to be so reckless.”

“Only a serious recommitment to public health protocols by our whole community will make this possible,” Chancellor Blank said in the email. 

To close out her email to students, Chancellor Blank acknowledges those who have already been guided by the university's SmartRestart.

“I particularly thank those many, many students whose behavior has been exemplary and hope that more will join them in these next two weeks,” Chancellor Blank said.