Members of the Case Western Reserve University community who have been through reorientation training to prepare for their return to campus have likely had their first introduction to the university’s community commitment—a unified pledge to think for the good of their neighbor, their health and their community.

Originally drafted by Undergraduate Student Government President Hunter Stecko, the commitment is meant to serve as both a reminder for what the community should be doing daily to stay healthy, but also a guide for how students, faculty and staff can work together to help ensure campus remains open this semester.

Months ago, as conversations about reopening continued, Stecko was closely following the broad range of protective measures other institutions were proposing for the fall semester. “Some were near Orwellian … others were overly lax,” said Stecko. “The first draft of the community proposal was my effort to balance clearly beneficial public health measures with the desire to avoid creating too onerous or intrusive a requirement.”

Over time and with input from faculty, staff, health personnel and numerous student groups—both undergraduate and graduate—Stecko’s proposal evolved into today’s Community Commitment. In addition to a focus on the mindset those returning to campus should strive for in their decision-making—thinking for the good of your neighbors and community—the commitment also outlines practical actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, cleaning up after yourself in common areas and refraining from hosting non-essential visitors on campus.

As other institutions begin to open—and quickly close, in some cases—Stecko notes that the need for the public health measures outlined in the commitment, and the community’s diligence in following them, becomes increasingly clear. “Disregarding your own health and safety is not just a ‘you’ problem when you step back onto campus this fall,” said Stecko. “Reality has changed, and the community commitment is merely a recognition of this fact.”

Stecko sees what has happened at other universities as lessons our community can learn from, and concrete evidence of what students need to avoid in order to safely remain on campus—namely, large social gatherings which could allow the virus to spread to classmates, those in common areas and those in our community.  

“CWRU is a community in which individuals have a high regard for one another, and I hope this alone will instill the importance of following the commitment both in view of others and in private,” said Stecko. “We all have the common motivation which I originally had in mind when first drafting what would become the community commitment: staying healthy, and staying here.”

Watch the video or read the full community commitment on the Return to Campus website.