BVU Game Room Threat to Public Safety

BVU Considers Re-Opening Public Gathering Space During Pandemic


Jordyn Daggs-Olson, Staff Writer

It is safe to say that Buena Vista University is in a state of limbo with concerns about its COVID-19 procedures and protocols as the semester goes on.  

The uncertainty can be felt across campus; and with very little sense of normalcy in our current situations, BVU is looking for ways to provide students with some form of escape. An example of this is the possibility of opening the game room, which is a decision I oppose. 

Since the game room opened back in Spring 2019, it has been a popular hangout for students whether it be spending their time playing ping pong, video games, Skee-Ball or simply hanging out in the lounge area.  

However, supervision of the game room was rarely covered all hours it was open (typically 6:00 a.m. to midnight) and was largely covered by students. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, it is unreasonable to think that the game room will be open as long as usual without constant supervision. That is a situation that Student Success is trying to figure out before reaching a concrete decision of if and when the game room will open for student use.  

Assistant Director of Student Activities and Leadership Erica Swanson explained the decision-making process she is going through. She said she hopes that decisions will be made soon about the opening, but everything is still up in the air as they monitor the state of COVID-19 on BVU’s campus. 

“I definitely want to provide that space for students, to be able to get out of their rooms, and socialize, and play games and have fun in a safe and physically distanced way while on campus,” she said. I definitely want to be able to do that, we’re just working through a lot of questions we have and safety protocols we need to develop before we can do that safely. 

She describes what sorts of protocols Student Success is looking to put in place prior to the game room possibly opening. These include establishing cleaning requirements for their student staff to follow and limiting the types of games and equipment students are allowed to use 

Swanson said the main concern is being able to have protocols in place that allow students to use the facility safely. This would mean limiting the use of board games as well as video games, scaling back on open hours, and ensuring that there is always at least one student worker supervising and sanitizing surfaces.  

While I completely understand the reasoning behind potentially opening the game room, I don’t think Student Success should follow through on this idea. As stated in the bi-weekly update emails from Interim President Lenzmeier, BVU is facing difficulties with students abiding by all the COVID-19 policies and protocols. Without full compliance from students, why should we add another obstacle in the mix?  

Overseeing the maintenance and cleanliness of the game room would require a lengthy staff compiled of students, Student Success staff, facilities staff, and security staff to ensure its upkeep. These groups of people are already busy enough as it is without adding another thing to their plates.  

At this time in the semester, classes are just starting to get an increase in the amount of workload outside of class time. It could be difficult to find trustworthy students that can devote the time needed to supervise the game room because, in the past, it has more or less been a desk job that allows you to do homework.  

Facilities can only do so much in a single day, and their primary task is now ensuring that all classroom and study spaces are sanitized regularly for student use. We would just be adding more pressure and responsibilities to the facilities staff by allowing students to use game room facilities. 

The potential issues are heightened for campus security as our monitoring has been increased; and with that comes more tasks that they need to carry out when they receive an anonymous tip or phone call regarding non-compliant behaviors on campus.  

Student Success is at the heart of campus’ COVID-19 reports and evaluations of the current state of BVU, taking meals to students in isolation and trying to come up with ideas of how to keep students engaged on campus with some sense of normalcy instead of feeling trapped. Adding one more thing for them to monitor is just asking for more problems for them to deal with. 

I don’t foresee the game room acting as any sort of incentive for people to follow COVID-19 policies. On-campus events that would include gatherings, like organization meetings and campus entertainment, have all been moved to virtual platforms to reduce exposure between students.  

If the game room were to open, then it would be a conflicting message of wanting people to not congregate in other public or private spaces, and then providing a space for students to do that very thing. There is more capacity for problems when students would only be monitored by fellow students. 

There is more potential for things to go wrong rather than go right, such as students touching equipment as they walk by without actually using it, or students ignoring a student worker’s request to follow guidelines (i.e. wear mask, physical distance, sanitize items, etc.). At the very least, all this effort is put into making the game room available for students only for them to not want to use it. If safety is our campus’s top priority, then we need to limit the areas where students can gather for the time being. Once we can get a better handle on the positive COVID-19 cases on campus, maybe then we can approach the subject of allowing more spaces for students to socialize.