RA virus cartoon

RA virus cartoon 

This is the second piece in a series of first-person accounts of how students are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, written by the Reveille's opinion columnists.  

Lately I can't get the The Clash song "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" out of my head. Not just because it's catchy but because it is obnoxiously relevant to my current life.

As a Resident Assistant in an apartment community on campus, I have been directly involved in the chaos of managing the evacuation of thousands of residents. For the past two weeks, I have been constantly checking residents out of their rooms, inspecting empty rooms and answering residents who have the same questions as me.

Although I do my best to isolate myself, the nature of my job means I have had to interact with new people every single day since the University closed its doors. This Sunday, when Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the stay-at-home order and the University made a final push to get residents to move home, I was faced with a decision.

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I could continue on as an RA to help the considerable number of students remaining, or I could go home. Ultimately, I decided to stay at LSU.

This decision, like so many basic ones these days, was fraught with guilt. I felt guilty because I wasn't doing what the University had recommended for most on-campus students. I felt guilty because as an RA, I knew I would continue to be around people constantly moving in and out of the building.

Fundamentally, I felt guilty for not sitting alone in a room for days on end, a novel experience for an introvert like myself. I am overly familiar with declining social invitations to spend a night inside, only to later feel that I should have pushed myself more to leave my room, but never before have I felt like I should be spending more time inside.

However, I also know that by going home I would be placing my family at risk, particularly my parents and asthmatic sister. I would be going from a residence hall in a parish with 43 confirmed cases, two of which involve University students, to a carefully isolated family unit in a parish with four cases. Any guilt I could possibly feel about staying at LSU is outweighed by the risk, however small, of infecting my family.

I know that the guilt I am wrestling with is nothing in the grand scheme of this pandemic. I am grateful that I have a guaranteed income and a place to live. I am grateful that I am healthy and at low risk of dying from coronavirus. However, like everyone else, I am confused about how I fit into this new existence of isolation and fear.

I doubt I'll find any answers until long after the pandemic abates and I can see its effects, but for now, all I can do is stay inside to ease the guilt.

Cécile Girard is a 20-year-old psychology sophomore from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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