Halifax — Administration at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) have been taken aback by the outcry around a waiver that has been circulated to students ahead of the fall semester.
The waiver, widely decried by students on social media, absolves StFX of responsibility should a student contract COVID-19 at the school. They say the waiver is out of line with what other universities have done, and the lack of online classes give students little choice in whether to return or not.
University administration was surprised by the backlash, however.
“We’ve been saying for years that ‘X gon’ give it to ya,’ this is just a formalization and acknowledgement of that — don’t get it twisted,” said Kyle Pyke, a university spokesperson.
“X been doing this for 19 years. From the common cold and mental illness, to syphilis, and even meningitis, we’re continuing a proud tradition of givin’ it to ya. This year, we’re ready to give it more than ever, and we want to be prepared for that.”
Universities have the potential to be hotbeds in the spread of COVID-19, due to the hundreds of students living in close proximity in residence, abundance of heavily used common spaces, and multitude of social activities on campus — especially one known for its social life.
Sydney Purcell, a returning student, was shocked to see the waiver when it was released.
“It’s like they’re throwing their hands in the air and saying ‘It can’t be helped,’ with a meagre offering of online classes and no mention of disease mitigation.”
Purcell said the letter represents an ongoing power imbalance between university administration and students.
“They say they put in work, and it’s all for the kids. But with this waiver it’s very clear where their priorities lie, and they aren’t with the safety of their students.”
Purcell and hundreds of other students and community members have signed a letter calling on the school to rescind the waiver.
Pyke maintained that the waiver is a typical response and if “it gets given” to too many students, the university will consider adapting its operations, as dead students cannot pay tuition. However, he went on to say that it would let nothing get in the way of the students going hard and getting busy wit [sic] it.
“StFX is, and always has been, absolutely steadfast in our dedication to having a good time. Givin’ it to ya is at times a side-effect of this, but as any Xavieran can attest, nothing compares to the Xperience [sic].”
Asked if StFX would be providing masks or sanitizer to students to help mitigate the risk, Pyke said, “X ain’t got it, so you can’t get it.”