The object of the game Jenga is to construct a tower out of wooden blocks. Players slowly remove the base of the tower, block by block and place the little segments of wood atop an increasingly unstable monolith until, at last, it collapses and showers them with the evidence of their own failure.
Towers of wood are one thing. Towers of beliefs, of opinions, of actions, are another thing entirely.
We humans have a tendency to create our own worst enemies and we do so through the powers of belief and perception.
The actions of group X are thought to be undesirable, so group Y reacts negatively: thus they remove a block. Group X can’t tolerate such behavior without responding, so then they remove a block.
Each group only adds fuel to the engine of the other: they confirm their worst opinions about each other. This game continues, and the tower weakens with the removal of each successive block until either the tower collapses into a heap of jumbled blocks or both sides agree to disarm and work to rebuild.
It is easy to see this scenario playing out between those advocating for restrictive guidelines in order to combat COVID-19 and those wishing to escape the oppressive weight of those rules.
A perhaps overzealously implemented response to our emergency, lockdowns, mask-mandates and social distancing change the lives of everyone they affect in a thousand irritating ways.
Just like the masks we are encouraged and commanded to wear, these restrictions are suffocating: they force us to change and prevent us from expressing ourselves as we want to. However, much of the evidence would suggest that, while far from a miracle cure, these odious rules prevent the coronavirus from spreading too quickly and becoming uncontrollable. This precarious but manageable state of affairs allows the institutions of our society to function with a degree of normalcy.
The tower has been built and now the block pulling can begin.
To the advocates of the rules, the dismissal of what is so clearly a truth and a solution seems the worst sort of madness. The offenders must be reported, confronted and shamed. To those who consider the rules offensive and irritating, the people who are constantly ranting about the coronavirus are wielding authoritarian power with frightening speed and efficiency.
Their freedoms are slashed for what seems to be an overinflated issue. The reporting, confronting and shaming drive them to resist. Resistance steels the resolve of those who report, confront and shame. The tower reels from side to side but hasn’t quite fallen yet.
Should the tower collapse into chaos? Should we let cracks form and widen in our campus culture, splitting the student body apart and potentially leading to another round of online-only classes?
I certainly don’t want that to happen and I’d imagine that you don’t either.
The University of Dallas does not exist and function in a vacuum.
We, as students, are beholden to our professors and the administrators, but UD has sworn a measure of fealty to the state.
It is for the sake of its students and the university itself that UD has implemented these rules.
UD wants to remain a place where its students can reside, socialize, learn and develop. The university also must be in compliance with state and nation-wide pandemic regulations or face persecution. The form of the restrictions is the work of the UD administration, but the mandate that they exist in the first place comes from a significantly higher power. This is a power which, currently, we cannot and should not possibly wish to contend with.
Thus, while many of the rules are strange or contradictory (and should consequently be changed), it is in our best interest to stick to them as tightly as we can bear.
We, the student body, want to stay on campus. We, the student body, do not want to be forced home to watch our professors struggle for 15 minutes to get their tech working. We, the student body, should follow the rules not just to stay safe and healthy but to keep UD open and alive.
Our university isn’t some eternally sustainable entity capable of doing whatever it wants, it’s an institution made up of people who are all beholden to the overwhelming force of the state. We can’t just do what we want and expect UD to escape the consequences.
We need to come together over our love of our campus and its culture, rebuild the tower and follow the rules that keep UD open.