As things slowly start to vaguely resemble the way they were pre-pandemic, I can’t help but think, ‘When will campus life feel like it did?’ For me, a huge part of my college experience has been going to athletic events, and I really am missing the feeling of cheering on the Stags in the stands, or from the press box of Rafferty Stadium. Sports have come back in full swing on campus, with schedules full and fields humming with the sound of excited players and coaches. The only thing that’s missing now is the student section.
On March 5, The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference released a statement regarding the attendance policy for 2020-2021 fall and spring sports. “Member schools will not sell tickets to the public for campus-based competitions for the remainder of the academic year including fall into spring and spring sports,” it read.
This is unfortunate for students who had hoped to engage in the gameday environment, but is somewhat understandable given the circumstances. What I struggle with, however, is the fact that huge indoor arenas such as Madison Square Garden, the TD Garden, the Barclays Center and many more are allowing fans at a limited capacity, but outdoor facilities on our own campus are closed to students. These venues require that certain action be taken before the event, such as providing proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, filling out a health survey or taking temperatures at the door. I understand these precautions, and I feel as though if Fairfield University were to open their sporting events at a limited capacity using these precautions, these events would not pose a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of the school.
I am aware that this decision was made by the MAAC, and not by Fairfield, however not all varsity sports at Fairfield are a part of this conference. Nonetheless, athletics declared that “The policy will also extend to Field Hockey, which competes in the Northeast Conference, and Men’s Lacrosse, which competes in the Colonial Athletic Association,” on their website. The desire for consistency across all teams makes sense, but this consistency is not present throughout the MAAC’s attendance policies.
The MAAC has made the decision “To allow two family members per student-athlete for the home team to attend all MAAC competition, subject to state, local, and institutional regulations exercised at the institution’s discretion.” What I cannot grasp is how family members who do not live on our campus, amongst these student-athletes, are allowed to attend these games, however students who get PCR tested weekly through the school are prohibited from doing so.
As per the guidelines outlined for the Fairfield College Preparatory School and University sporting events, two family members per student-athlete are permitted on campus to watch the game contingent on the fact that they follow certain procedures.
I imagine that the families are elated and proud to be able to cheer on their student-athletes, and I am all for that, however the inconsistency of who is and who is not allowed to attend is baffling to me.
“Family members will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival to campus. This verification will be shown at the main gate to provide access. Individuals who have been vaccinated will still need proof of a negative test. Any viral covid-19 test is allowed.”
That last sentence is the key, since it does not prohibit rapid tests from being used as their proof of a negative test. According to health.harvard.edu, “False negative results tend to occur more often with antigen tests than with molecular tests. This is why antigen tests are not favored by the FDA as a single test for active infection.”
If anything, at least students can guarantee that their tests provided by the University are PCR’s. My argument here is not that families shouldn’t be allowed to attend, it is that if people from different cities, circles and walks of life do not pose a risk to the public health of Fairfield University given the many guidelines they must follow to attend sporting events, then why wouldn’t students, who should fulfill the same expectations, not be able to enjoy a game or a match safely as well?
In efforts to go around the attendance restrictions, many students, townspeople and other spectators have gathered behind the fence surrounding Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium to watch the games. Many of these fans do not respect social distancing guidelines or mask requirements. This is certainly more of a threat to the health and safety of our campus community than it would be to allow spectators to enter under strict protocols. If they were inside the stadium, however, it is likely that they would be more inclined to follow guidelines put into place by the University as they would be monitored by faculty.
“All policies and procedures are subject to change at any time in accordance with changes to University policy and/or local and state guidelines,” stated fairfieldstags.com. I do hope this is the case.