Neustadter: CSU needs to do more to protect students from COVID-19

Corinne Neustadter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In the past few weeks, Colorado State University students have seen the rising impacts of COVID-19 on campus. Following extended wastewater testing, Braiden and Summit Halls were put under quarantine given elevated levels of the virus. Resident assistants revealed their concerns over job security if students are sent home with recent changes to their job contracts.


Though CSU has a low positivity rate, we still see new cases emerging often, prompting community leaders to continue stressing the importance of preventative behaviors.

However, with the University of Colorado Boulder going online for at least two weeks due to a spike in cases, there is increased pressure on CSU to keep cases down if classes are to continue.

In the face of this surmounting pressure, CSU needs to do more to protect students from COVID-19.

Despite President Joyce McConnell’s assertion that the university’s “continuing focus is on assuring the health of our faculty, staff and students,” there have been little internal structures to ensure students are following public health behaviors. 

While there is an online form for students to report others who may be gathering in violation of the University’s health guidelines, in contrast to CU Boulder, there are no public records of students being suspended or expelled from CSU from Student Conduct Services or the CSU COVID-19 Recovery webpage.

Several schools have taken disciplinary action against students who violate internal public health orders, possibly the most drastic being Northeastern University. In September, they dismissed 11 students for gathering in a single hotel room.

Even CU Boulder has recently taken significant disciplinary actions against violators of public health guidelines. As of Sept. 30, three students have been suspended from the university after disciplinary hearings and will have to reapply next semester to continue their education.

“Living in the dorms felt like I was constantly looking out for my own safety and could be exposed to COVID-19 through no fault of my own.”

As of Oct. 6, there have been 324 students who have experienced “educational interventions” as a result of violating public health orders at CU Boulder.

Meanwhile, there is no indication that CSU will be taking disciplinary action against the Kappa Sigma fraternity, which has been responsible for two outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus, including the first documented outbreak since students left in March.

Though CSU touts the fact that “91% of Colorado State University students are motivated to practice safe health behaviors so they don’t spread COVID-19,” they need to take more responsibility for keeping students safe.


In fact, CSU seems more interested in shifting all blame to students for the spread of COVID-19 than actively taking responsibility for bringing thousands of undergraduate students back to campus.

An email from President McConnell in August explicitly told students, “mitigation is your responsibility. It is your challenge to comply,” signifying that it is the sole duty of students to stop the transmission of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

This supposed “call to action” sparked an open letter from a group of people in the CSU community decrying McConnell’s inability to effectively lead in this time of crisis. Blaming students for not reducing the impacts of a pandemic has not seemed to be an effective mechanism to stop the spread of COVID-19 on its own, as evidenced by CSU’s rising case count throughout August and September.

McConnell’s communications since then have continued to stress the importance of students’ public health behaviors, but are noticeably insufficient in addressing the continued spread of COVID-19. If students are blatantly ignoring COVID-19 guidelines, will there be any consequences for them?

As a recent dorm resident myself, I was worried by the lack of adherence to public health guidelines, which prompted me to move off-campus.

While most everyone wore masks around the hall, students did gather in hallways and study rooms, which were closed off to students as Housing & Dining Services sought to discourage gatherings of any kind. Simply walking around campus on weeknights would reveal clusters of students without masks or socially distant spacing outside the Student Recreation Center or the Lory Student Center. 

With many dining halls being closed for indoor dining, I would often see crowds of students gathering outside to eat, not following social distancing guidelines. Over the five weeks I lived in the dorms, I did not see my resident assistant once, despite the booming music and voices I heard most weeknights indicative of illicit parties.

Living in the dorms felt like I was constantly looking out for my own safety and could be exposed to COVID-19 through no fault of my own, while also feeling like I had no support from the very people claiming to be resources for students.

Yes, the well-being of the campus community is dependent on how well students follow public health guidelines. However, CSU needs to recognize its own responsibilities to keep students safe and do everything in its power to ensure that public health guidelines are being followed — beyond blaming students for failing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Corinne Neustadter can be reached at or on Twitter @cneustad.