After a tense weekend full of danger and unrest in Appleton, SWAT teams stationed along College Ave were finally sent home. The blockade, which had surrounded Lawrence University after reports of an outbreak caused by a new COVID-19 strain, had gone up late Friday night, lasting until the early hours of Monday morning. No one had been allowed to leave campus, and officers had been ordered to “use necessary force” to keep residents of Lawrence University on campus. After the blockade was disbanded, however, Lawrentians expressed their confusion about the whole event.
“There was a blockade?” an anonymous first-year student told the Lawrentian.
It appears as though no one who was sectioned off to the quarantine zone was aware they were in quarantine this weekend. According to one junior, “No, we definitely went off-campus this weekend. I went to the Viking Room with some friends, then walked to Sage Hall, then Colman… We were gonna order pizza, but I guess we forgot. I could’ve sworn we went somewhere downtown, like, you know, that one bar, with, like, the neon and stuff.”
The Appleton Police Department had zero reports of people trying to leave campus from nine o’clock on Friday evening to five in the morning this past Monday. They did receive one complaint, however, from a student who had departed Friday afternoon and returned Sunday night to find he could not be allowed in. The student was especially confused, according to the police report, because their friends “did not believe [the student] was barred from entering campus. When [the student] suggested they walk to College Avenue to see for themselves, their friends responded over text, ‘All the way to College? Dude, I’m in Trever right now. Are you crazy?’”
Trever Hall experienced its own excitement over the weekend, as that is where the supposed outbreak was thought to have started. Police were called to the scene on Friday at around 6:30 p.m. and discovered four students with severe COVID-like symptoms, including wheezing cough, sniffles, sickness, dizziness and hallucinations. By eight o’clock, the campus was on lockdown. The blockade was only removed when medical professionals figured out Monday morning that the four students were not actually infected with a new strain of COVID and were, in fact, “just really high.”
Several other students voiced their confusion directly to the Lawrentian. As one anonymous senior put it, “I was here before the pandemic, and even then students didn’t think going into the greater Appleton area was a good idea. We avoided downtown before it was COVID-safe. When I first came to Lawrence, I fell asleep on the drive to campus, so I actually didn’t know there was a city right down the block until I had to take the bus back home.”
Lawrence University’s administration learned about the possible outbreak late Friday night and, according to a spokesperson, “planned to send out an email to students, staff and faculty that next morning to inform them of the situation. However, administrators were unable to go through with this plan, entirely due to the disappointing actions of the Lawrence student body. These administrators were distraught to see college students partying within the current policy guidelines and partaking in activities that are illegal in vague areas of the country or amongst arbitrary age groups, and were therefore unable to do their jobs.” When Monday came and the blockade was lifted, the administration decided to disregard the email entirely.
Luckily, all four students who caused the initial scare returned to campus with mild injuries to their pride. No other injuries were reported, much to the Appleton Police Department’s liking. Said one officer, “We’re glad to see Operation Bubble is over. Now Appleton and Lawrence University can go back to normal.”