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Sophomore Haley Strack and senior Anna Katherine Daley gaze at the outside world from their tem­porary home in the town­houses. Haley Strack | Col­legian

“I have some not-so-good news.”

Rebeckah Dell’s words rang in my ears as I packed clothes, books, snacks — every­thing I would need for two weeks. I was going to quar­antine.

I grabbed my bags and drove to the town­houses. Unit 3. 

Health Care Liaison Stephanie Gravel was waiting to show me my home for the next 14 days. As I walked up the stairs to my pent­house abode, four eager heads poked their masked heads out of doors. 

Thank­fully, I knew all of them: Gracyn Howard, yoga extra­or­di­naire; Anna Katherine Daley, res­ident comic relief; Natalie Walters, the trou­ble­maker; and one other friend of mine.

I dropped my stuff off in room 38 and went down­stairs for a dis­tanced pow wow with the girls. While we aren’t allowed to have physical contact with each other, we can interact with masks on. 

I was told the general feeling about wel­coming me into the house was com­pa­rable to how Anne Frank must’ve felt inviting people into her house. A dra­matic take.

Now, with more than five days under my belt, I can tell you that it’s not easy. I miss my friends. I miss my church. I miss my clothes. 

I’m sure we were all in “quar­antine” at one point over the summer,  but this is the big leagues. Every day, we get three meals delivered to us. We can go down­stairs to the kitchen for snacks, but we’re dis­couraged from staying for long. We can’t open our windows, because the ion­ization system runs through the air ducts. We’re allowed stag­gered outside time in a tent, but we can’t step outside its bound­aries. 

We have a nightly recap in the house to discuss our highs and lows of the day — our “hills and dales.” We decided on one hill and one dale to describe our expe­rience so far. Our hill: bonding time. Our dale: online shopping efforts have been thwarted by UPS, which refuses to deliver to our door. 

We have a group chat, named “magic in the town­houses,” where we keep each other updated on the day’s hap­penings. Some high­lights:

“Did anyone hear that kid walking by say ‘this is the place that is filled with COVID?’”

“Do my eyes deceive me or did Ken Koopmans just pull up and deliver Taco Bell to one of you?”

“Quar­antine is high school all over again. Homework on a Friday night, sober weekends, and appar­ently the state of Michigan thinks I’m playing hard to get because it won’t call me.”

“When are we ini­ti­ating our quar­antine sorority? Our quarority if you will?”

Our quarority is now up to seven members. We’ve instated Asso­ciate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers as risk man­agement, Gravel as House Mother, and the guy who tested pos­itive as our recruitment chair. So far, he’s done a great job recruiting.

Overall, things have been man­ageable in the house. Chief visits us daily, we have access to gro­ceries, and while it’s not ideal, these 14 days will pass. 

The biggest threat to our mental health right now is coming from outside our quar­antine bubble. It’s the rumor mon­gering: false claims that mul­tiple Greek houses are respon­sible for an impending out­break, a high volume of people have tested pos­itive, and the college is keeping stu­dents in the dark about numbers.

I’m on the inside, and I can tell you none of those rumors are true.

On Thursday night, there was an off-campus event. The guests included patient zero (yes, he knows I’m calling him this), some of his fra­ternity brothers, and some sorority members. 

 The school is taking pre­cau­tionary mea­sures and has quar­an­tined many of the people in contact with the pos­itive case. The cri­teria for quar­an­tined stu­dents is this: contact with a pos­itive case within six feet for more than 15 minutes, or any physical contact. 

Three of my friends and I are in quar­antine because we side hugged the person who tested pos­itive. The other girls are in this unit because they were with the pos­itive case for more than 15 minutes two nights before the event.

Anyone could have been in our position. All it takes is one hand­shake, one high-five, or one hug. Yes, I went to an event and didn’t socially dis­tance or wear a mask. But if I had to guess, I’d say you’ve done the same in the last few weeks. You don’t need to lecture us because our moms already have.

Per­sonal account­ability has been a large part of Hillsdale’s return-plan, and at least half the people locked up are in quar­antine because we made the con­scious decision to call the deans our­selves. 

For the next 14 days, we’re con­fined to a town­house, unable to open windows, go outside, workout, have physical contact, or attend in-person classes — we’re dealing with the con­se­quences of our deci­sions. In the meantime, we’ll keep the hugs to a minimum.

 

Haley Strack is a sophomore studying political economy.