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From the Student Handbook at Bard College, Year One of the New COVID-19 Calendar

This is college life under the neo-fascist order of what Giorgio Agamben calls “biosecurity.”

From Francis Karagodins:

“The COVID-19 Student Handbook Addendum,” which was sent today to the student body of my college, describes the ethics to be followed in the fall semester. I summarize and quote its choicest passages below.

The Handbook reads that “Masks will be made available around campus for anyone who needs one. You should feel empowered,” it continues, “to approach someone without a mask and ask them if they need help finding a spare.” Arriving students will be given “two reusable cloth masks,” and disposable masks will be available “for those who forget or misplace” them. They must be used everywhere, including the bathroom, “unless you are brushing your teeth or taking a shower.” Otherwise, concludes the section, “Use common sense when walking around campus and always have a face covering ready for immediate use.”

The Handbook observes that “Active listening is key” when questioning persons who are not wearing a mask, of which the likely causes are a) their not having completed “their health check for the day,” or else b) their feeling “upset or rebellious or angry about the circumstances.” These can be discovered by careful inquiry.

In the case of a), the person “can be gently reminded” of the rules. The Handbook admonishes the reader to remember that “Most people want to do the right thing. The right thing right now,” it concedes, “looks different than what we’ve known for most of our lives, so it is going to take some getting used to.” In the case of b), the psychological cause is explained first. Rather than testifying to depravity in the given persons, “It means they are struggling with managing the experiences they are encountering.” There follows a passage outlining the responsibilities of the Bard Care Team, which “will follow restorative justice principles in addressing situations that are not resolved through individual conversation.” Persons whose behavior requires further intervention shall be referred for review to the Dean of Student Affairs Office, which may culminate in “a restorative conference if the student or employee continues to interfere with the living and learning environment of others.” Finally, persons who exhibit ongoing and irreformable neglect of rules “may be separated from campus.”

“Social distancing has to be maintained whenever possible.” Of such moment is this rule that “Organizers of events where social distancing is not followed or where attendees fail to wear face coverings when required will be prohibited from organizing or hosting future events.” Moreover, “Standing in the hallway should be kept to a minimum, and groups must not congregate in hallways.”

The Handbook would encourage students “to journal about their daily contacts and interactions at the end of every day.” Addressing the reader as it were vis-a-vis, “This will give you feedback on how you are handling social distancing,” it says, “and where you may want to shift behavior. It will also help if information is needed for contact tracing,” it adds.

The Handbook ends with a student health pledge outlining twelve necessary commitments, which I reproduce in full:

1. Stay in my residence hall room/living space and notify Bard Health Service at 845-758-7433 if I have symptoms of COVID-19: Coughing, chills, fever, muscle/body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, headache, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

2. As per CDC guidelines, follow all guidelines outlined by Health Services for quarantining if I have received a contact tracing call and am required to quarantine. If I live on campus, I understand that this may require that I move to a temporary location that is not my permanent residence hall room. 

3. Participate in any required pre-screening tests before work, class, any Bard sanctioned events, or entry into any on-campus buildings (e.g., temperature checks, health surveys, sanitation checkpoints). 

4. Comply with any testing protocols mandated by state, federal, or Bard authorities. 

5. Wash my hands with soap and warm water (or use hand sanitizer) frequently throughout the day, including before and after entering bathrooms, dining halls, residence halls, off-campus buildings, classrooms, and any other public/high contact areas. 

6. Complete required COVID-related trainings, including any work, class, and event specific trainings; 

7. Wear a face mask/covering around other people and in all common spaces. 

7. Adhere to all social distancing, mask wearing, and other protocols specific to classroom, laboratory, and studio and rehearsal spaces. 

7. Follow College policy to clean high-touch areas and shared items. 

8. Maintain social distancing on and off campus in accordance with College policy and New York State law. 

9. Respectfully remind peers of safety expectations and be respectful, in return, if someone reminds me to comply with safety expectations. 

10. Adhere to all recommended health and safety protocols, including social distancing and mask wearing, when off campus in surrounding communities. 

11. In the event that it becomes necessary, comply with all evacuation and lock down procedures mandated by state, federal, or Bard authorities. 

12. Report any violations of the above community standards to ensure the safety of our community.

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