Nobody really knows what to do in this situation.
Everyone is trying to do what is best.
But the time to be silent has passed.
We are here at Hillsdale College to study the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Our honor code says, “Through education a student will rise to self-government.”
We say that college is a partnership. But I do not see this happening here lately.
I see a college that is giving in to the demands of the state. I see a student body that is allowing its life to be dictated to it, no matter its convictions to the contrary.
I have been just as guilty. I have stayed silent about what I believe. But I believe we can’t do this any longer. We are at a point where, in order to pursue what the college claims to believe in, the students must stop complying.
We must govern ourselves, trust our fellow students, and live our lives without constant fear of the coronavirus.
We are living in constant fear of who can contact-trace you, fear of who may be sick, and fear of being guilted by fellow students for not doing the “right” thing. But if my moral compass has to be adjusted to what someone else says is right, is that truly the right thing?
We all chose Hillsdale for the freedom to grow, to learn, and to be the best human beings possible. We must ask ourselves: are we achieving that goal right now?
How is this an “in-person” semester if many healthy students are confined to their rooms?
Is contact-isolating nearly 20% of students, though many are asymptomatic and not a single COVID-19 case has resulted in hospitalization, either “true” or “the good?” Is watching class via Zoom while alone in your room “partnership?” Is turning in our friends for contact-tracing “the beautiful?”
Hillsdale’s beliefs are easy to believe when times are good, but now is the time to prove that we can practice what we preach. Now is the time for Hillsdale College to show that we can govern ourselves.
I know some are at risk. I know some are scared. I do not want to discount that risk and fear. But responsibility for one’s health falls to that person alone. That is what self-government means. You cannot rely on administration or government to protect you from everything.
Now is not the time to hand over more power to the government, but to take back what we see as right and moral, by fighting for what Hillsdale believes in: college as a partnership. Allowing students to grow and govern themselves, trusting us to do what is right by our own consciences, is the best way to protect ourselves and our college.
The protection of the college cannot fall on mask mandates and quarantining the healthy to support it. It must fall on the protection of our ideals and what we do here. If we wish to remain a standard of freedom and self-governance in higher education, we must stay true to our teachings and fight for what we believe in. We must learn, live, and grow together — not “together apart.”
Hillsdale College students should demonstrate that we are not sheep, though much of the rest of the nation may be. This is our moment to demonstrate the virtues of the self-governance we praise.
Marleigh Kerr is a sophomore studying politics and religion.