Reactions to new protocols reveal sense of entitlement

Art of angry student body in masks.
(Lyndzi Ramos | Daily Trojan)

On Jan. 4, the Daily Trojan Instagram released the following breaking news alert: “Surgical or N95 masks required for the spring semester.” Soon after, the comment section exploded with complaints such as “I don’t wanna go back on accutane,” “How Totalitarian of you,” “That’s a burdensome requirement” and “I don’t want to go to school with weekly testing, N95, and Trojan check in my last semester.”

These responses from USC’s student body mirror those following other coronavirus protocol announcements, such as the transition to remote instruction for one week and the subsequent extension of remote learning until Jan. 24. The Daily Trojan Instagram coverage of the latter announcement attracted over 200 user comments, ranging from “What about the basketball games?” to “when I am forking up 60k for a private school education, I expect quality. You can go anywhere for online schooling.”

This pattern reveals a sense of entitlement among USC students: the notion that our social lives and personal comfort are more important than the health of our community and the South Central neighborhood we occupy. I find myself frightened by the audacity students have showcased in vocalizing their preferences for convenience over public health and safety.

USC’s new coronavirus protocols appear to have been implemented in response to new surging statistics, such as the average 103,161 new cases this past week reported in the Los Angeles Times as of Sunday, an increase of 71.2% compared to two weeks ago.

With such alarming data available at our fingertips, I’d expect our student body to understand the urgency of recently implemented safety measures. Don’t get me wrong — as a freshman, I  feel robbed of the perfect first-year college experience. I hate wearing masks in class as my glasses fog up, and I am tired of completing Trojan Check questionnaires daily. However, while I am not thrilled about having to take classes online for two weeks, I know these measures are necessary for the greater good.

A case summary on the Los Angeles County Public Health website reveals that, in Exposition Park alone, there have been 11,252 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday. Considering the continuous gentrification effects USC housing developments bring on the South Central community, our student body needs to be mindful of the fact that we are not the only ones here — that we are guests in this neighborhood.

In the fall, I wrote an opinion piece headlined “USC should not suddenly switch synchronous classes to an online format,” in which I argued the exact opposite of where I stand now. What’s changed? For starters, the positivity rate at the time was 0.4% for students and 0.9% for employees. Now, it is a concerning 14.79% for students and 12.48% for employees, with 2,103 new positive cases reported between Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 alone. With the Omicron variant’s lightning-fast transmission speed, the student body needs to be more cautious than ever.

I compel our student body to rethink our antagonistic response to the University’s coronavirus announcements. The situation is not ideal, but this is not a time for individualism.