DES MOINES, Iowa — Drake University President Marty Martin says unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. “Who wants to be that person that because you don’t wear a mask, because you don’t practice social distancing, because you don’t practice good hygiene, puts another in danger for serious illness or death?” Martin said.
A “Drake Together Compact” is being signed by all undergrad students promising to maintain social distancing guidelines. Martin said, “That’s the key. This is all about health and safety for our students, for our staff, for our faculty and for the community around.”
Parents were allowed to help their student move in to the residence halls, but according to the compact, that’s the last time. “Visitors in the residence halls, who are not residence hall members, are not allowed,” said Martin.
The compact requires regular hand washing and mask wearing everywhere on campus when social distancing is not possible. “Obviously you need some sort of commitment to the campus community that each one of us has to make,” said Runal A. Patel, a senior with just one semester left before graduation.
Despite the drawbacks, Patel sees the compact as necessary. “There are people putting their lives on the line right now and hundreds of thousands of people dead, so to that extent my issues don’t really matter,” said Patel.
However, not all students agreed. “There were two students that did withdraw once we let them know they had to sign this compact,” Martin said.
Martin says students are encouraged to report behavior to the COVID-19 Behavioral Intervention Team made up of university officials as a last resort. “First and foremost, call it out. Correct the behavior in the moment,” Martin said.
Hosting or attending on- and off-campus parties will be a violation. “If you are an off-campus resident and you hold a party and we discover that, you are not allowed on campus until we were confident that you don’t create a risk for the campus.” said Martin. The party violation has already been enforced. “We’ve had to respond to an instance of people gathering inappropriately and we’ve dealt with that.”
Drake’s over 3,000 undergrads may seem small in comparison to larger in-state universities, but with students hailing from 45 different states and 52 countries, even a small breakout on campus could have a large global impact. “That’s not cool. I want to stay here. I already had to have my second to last semester interrupted to get sent home, so I don’t want that to happen again,” said Patel.
Repeated violations of the Drake Together Compact could result in suspension or expulsion from Drake University.
Read the full compact here.