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Making the Right Choice in This Historic Moment

President Gayle Hutchinson stresses students' important role in flattening the COVID-19 curve by practicing physical distancing.

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To: Students
From: President Gayle Hutchinson

We are facing a defining moment in history as the nation and world combat the COVID-19 pandemic. I know this is not the spring semester you envisioned and we are all eager to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. Unfortunately, we are not yet at a place in our battle against the virus where we can let up on sheltering in place and physically staying away from others. I hope that each and every one of you takes seriously your social and moral responsibility to adhere to the governor’s stay-at-home order and comply with the physical distancing guidelines. Yes, this will put a crimp in your spring semester and your social life, but realize that in a pandemic lives are at stake.

It may be all too easy to become complacent if you don’t know someone who is sick and you feel well yourself. However, your actions could also affect the health of others, including your friends, siblings, parents, and grandparents, as well as anyone who comes into contact with you. Without disciplined physical distancing in our community, the virus will spread exponentially and potentially overwhelm health care workers. And, your chances of getting and spreading the COVID-19 become much greater.

Your Associated Students President Trevor Guthrie recently shared this message: “Your experience as a student is a transformative journey. The adversity we face now is part of a journey that we will look back on and remember how it shaped us into the people we will become.” And he linked our action directly to the University’s motto: Today Decides Tomorrow.

I could not agree with Trevor more. Our motto has more relevance now and on a broader scale. The choices you make at this moment affect how rapidly or slowly the virus is able to spread, and ultimately, who is infected and who is not. Young people often carry the virus asymptomatically without even knowing it, and when they come into contact with others, it spreads.

We all have the capacity to become heroes in this moment and play a role in “flattening the curve.” Your decision to comply with social distancing is your contribution in this fight. In a socially active community such as ours, it is difficult to change behaviors and lifestyles, we all know that, but I strongly urge all of you to do the socially responsible and moral thing by acting to curtail the spread of COVID-19. When this historic moment is over, upon which side of history will you stand? Will you be able to say truthfully that you did your part to keep yourself, friends, family, and community safe from the novel coronavirus?

Thank you for your cooperation in doing all you can to keep yourself, your loved ones, and others safe. Together, we must act with social conscience and discipline to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help to bring an end to this pandemic.

Learn well, stay healthy, and take care of one another.