Cornell has announced an increase in weekly surveillance testing for certain high risk populations, eliciting mixed reactions amongst affected groups.
The change escalates surveillance testing from two times a week to three for athletes, members of Greek life and students living in co-ops or other community living arrangements.
“Initially, we will use this extra capacity to increase the surveillance testing frequency for students who, by nature of their shared living arrangements or affiliations, have a potential for exposure to a high number of close contacts,” Vice Provost of Academic Integration Gary Koretzky ’78 wrote in an email to The Sun.
Greek life members and student athletes have accounted for two of the three clusters on campus since the pandemic began, drawing criticism from University officials.
Many students see the new implementation as a positive change that reaffirms their health and safety this spring.
“Part of combatting COVID-19 is acting quickly, and by having more tests we can assess potential situations faster,” said Grace Hageman ’21, president of the Panhellenic Council.
“Because of how connected our community is, it can be as easy as one unknowingly COVID-19 positive person seeing a friend from a different chapter who then meets their partner who lives in a chapter house and so on to create a cluster,” Hageman said.
Evanthia Spyredes ’22, a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and Cornell’s soccer team, shared a similar gratitude for the resources at Cornell that allowed for success in the fall.
Nonetheless, Spyredes also expressed frustration over the Ivy League’s decision to not resume competition in sports even as other major universities and national conferences have.
“In my opinion, pouring money into testing is a bit wasteful because you should be pouring money into maybe figuring out how to get your athletes, who represent your university, back on the field and playing in safe environments,” Spyredes said.
Spyredes mentioned that many athletes are struggling mentally as practices and normal training remain suspended indefinitely.
“Taking half of who we are away renders us really kind of lost in a way. And I think that that’s transferable to Greek life, too,” Spyredes said. “I think that once you find your niche — what makes you you in college — it’s just kind of what helps you get through the day. Cornell’s not an easy place to be, and that’s the whole point of extracurriculars.”