As fear of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, increases in the United States, encouraged by media reports, government statements, and memes, universities in Boston are taking new and unprecedented steps to protect their students from the spread of COVID-19. One step that made itself quickly clear to the population of Umass Boston was the total removal of doorknobs from the campus. At 8 a.m. on March 9, people all over campus entered the buildings of their first classes only to find that making their way from room to room had become a lot more difficult.
When asked for the reasoning behind the decision to remove all doorknobs, one UMass Boston faculty member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The doorknobs were spreading germs because everyone comes into contact with them. Better to have none at all. We hope that the removal of doorknobs will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 to our wonderful students.”
It is rumored on campus that UMass Boston may have adopted the idea from UMass Amherst to remove all doorknobs from their campus. This rumor may ring true because UMass Amherst announced their decision to remove all doorknobs just a short time before UMass Boston did. Many are wondering what action UMass Lowell and UMass Dartmouth are taking, as well as the other universities in the area.
While the removal of doorknobs seems like a perfect decision, it soon created some problems. One student complained that she couldn’t enter her lab room in the old science building because of the lack of doorknobs. Another student said that all the Wheatley bathrooms were sealed tight shut.
A few undergraduate students were interviewed to give the Mass Media some perspective on the removal of door knobs from the students’ side of things. Here are some anonymous quotes collected:
“You really don’t think about how much you need them until they’re gone! My day to day life just got a lot more complicated without doorknobs.”
“Handles were removed too, you know. Everything. I can’t seem to go anywhere. It’s impossible to get around. But I suppose it should really help slow down the spread of the virus. We may not want this change, but I think it’s a change we need.”
“I think this total removal of all the doorknobs and handles seems a bit extreme. Doorknobs on campus are essential to in-classroom learning. There must be a better way to protect."
“I just can’t believe it! But I think this is a creative way to protect the campus, so I applaud whoever made this decision. I can’t go to the bathroom, though. So that’s a definite problem.”
Some teachers were unable to enter their classrooms after the removal of doorknobs, and were forced to begin teaching online. Some teachers adopted the practice of teaching through video calling platforms, while others stuck to emailing assignments and lecture PDFs.
Needless to repeat, Umass Boston’s total removal of doorknobs from the campus has created a lot of uncomfortable change, but it was definitely for the best. Now we can walk around campus without fear of coming into contact with doorknobs and spreading the much-discussed virus. It may be inconvenient, but a lack of doorknobs makes things a lot safer for everyone.