COVID Liaisons Talk Student Grievances

As an institution, it can be difficult to handle something as polarizing as a pandemic. For the past two years, the Reed College administration has had to figure out what works best for everyone as a college community in terms of responding to the challenges created during the pandemic. The Quest spoke to students as well as Senate’s COVID liaisons to see what they thought of Reed’s COVID response.

First, the Quest spoke to Ana Quintana Bernal, COVID liaison to the Student Body Senate. 

“Mine and Wani’s role is to connect with Madison Riethman and discuss student support and safety regarding COVID. In my time as a liaison, we have added new testing sites, increased information on testing, added a FAQ to the COVID page, and many other things! We discuss general student sentiments towards policy and get updates from Madison about CRAG meetings since we are not invited to them,”  Quintana Bernal held. 

Regarding student body’s feelings towards Reed’s COVID response, Quintana Bernal said “For the most part, it has been positive, especially on the fact that Reed has continued to be far more strict than other schools around the state or the country. Reed has, for the most part, felt like a pretty safe place for students.

“Some not-so-positive feedback has been mostly due to accessibility to student spaces and other spaces on campus, particularly for off-campus students. There has been a general sentiment that COVID has been used as a reason to close spaces that were pre-pandemic open to students for almost 24-hour use (actually 24-hour for the SU). This is a conversation that we have been trying to bring up to CRAG through Madison but has been at a stand-still for now – with a hope that the conversation will restart over the summer.” 

On the topic of next year; “Things are really up in the air right now in terms of the pandemic. The current surge, most likely due to the lifting of the mask mandate in the state, is an example of the somewhat unpredictability of the pandemic. Things were looking good and suddenly even the most careful people caught it (including myself). My hope is that Reed will continue to lean on the more cautious side when it comes to their response. Hopefully, this summer gives everyone time to figure things out and see how things may look like with more relaxed policies.”

Aliya Ghassaei, a sophomore living in Trillium in a fully self-contained space, talked about their own issues relating to how they’ve experienced COVID at Reed.

After testing positive for COVID following a trip to Seattle, they got a call from Timothie Rochon, the Medical Services Director at Reed College, saying that they had tested positive and had to move to isolation immediately. 

“At this point, I was in shock but frustrated that they asked me to move that night. I explained that I had a self-contained space and asked if they would let me move in the morning, which they agreed to. They said that I had to isolate for 10 days even though at that time, the CDC recommended 5 days of isolation for people without symptoms like me.”

Ghassaei was told that the reason for this hasty exit was because the HCC was “taking a more conservative approach.” 

After moving into their isolation housing, they experienced a lack of needed supplies, mildew, dirt-covered toilets and floors, and even brown water coming out of all the faucets.

“It felt like once you got COVID, they put you in a room and forgot about you.”

And this is not the only negative recounting of Reed’s COVID response, other students have had similar negative experiences with the way that COVID has been handled both this year and last.

Since we have been going through this for over two years and probably will have to continue dealing with the pandemic for the foreseeable future. Calls for clearer and more open communication, better hold on the cleanliness of the isolation spaces, as well as ample time to move out of personal spaces and into isolation spaces, have all been echoed throughout this year. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Stories


We would love your thoughts, please comment!x
%d bloggers like this: