Ethan Bachand ‘22
Chief News Editor
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, College of the Holy Cross alumnus Dr. Anthony Fauci, Class of 1962, appeared before the Holy Cross community in a student forum hosted by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases answered a wide variety of questions, some about the science behind COVID-19 and others about the political implications of the virus. In total, 1,238 members of the College attended the webinar.
Dr. Thomas Landy, the director of the McFarland Center opened up the forum by welcoming all participants. Without initially revealing the number of people in attendance, Dr. Landry noted that “We have so many students and staff online today, that it would dwarf the capacity, by several fold, of the largest academic venues we have on campus.” He would go on to mention that 13 students were chosen out of an initial pool of 98 submissions to participate and lead the forum.
After his opening statement, Dr. Landry introduced Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., President of the College of the Holy Cross. Fr. Boroughs S.J. thanked Dr. Fauci for his work, not only for the past year but also his entire career. The praise continued, as Fr. Boroughs S.J. remarked, “The power of your personal ethics and your liberal arts education is always on display when you thoughtfully address complicated issues of national health with clarity, when you respond to contentious interviewers with logic and restraint, when you quietly reflect honesty and integrity in the midst of conflicted politics, and when you consistently address the American public with the professional care of a dedicated physician.”
Following the introduction, Dr. Fauci was granted the opportunity for an opening remark. He took his time to remind members of the Holy Cross community of the significance of these times, saying, “We are living, really, through history right now. This is really the most extraordinary, devastating respiratory diseases pandemic in the last hundred and two years.” Dr. Fauci went on to emphasize that we are still in the middle of this pandemic, describing the current state of case numbers as “completely unacceptable” at this time. He concluded his opening remarks by saying that the specifications of this virus have always been his greatest concern.
At that time, Dr. Landry began to introduce students one by one as they asked Dr. Fauci their questions. The students that participated include: Alfonso del Aguila ’21, Matthew Cedeno ’22, Surbhi Daryani ’21, Jany Gonzalez ’22, Tianci Guan ’23, Kareem Hamada ’21, Celia Jarmoc ’21, John Larsen ’22, Zicong Chris Li ’21, Charlie Millard ’22, Monica Nakhla ’22, Shiv Patel ’23, and Emma Wood ’21.
One of the most anticipated questions came from Jany Gonzalez ’22, who asked what practices from other college campuses that have already reopened can be applied at Holy Cross in order to ensure a return to Worcester for all students in the Spring Semester. In response. Dr. Fauci stated the keys to a safe campus environment include universal testing prior to arrival, sample testing twice a week, the establishment of two “pods”, wearing masks, and washing hands. Additionally, Dr. Fauci noted that in the case of a positive COVID-19 test result, the College should not close the school but instead “put that person in a comfortable, isolated place, where they can do things virtually until the ten days or so are over, and they can go back into the community, but you have to separate them from the student body.”
At the end of the forum, Dr. Fauci concluded by saying, “The thing we got to make sure to appreciate is that this is going to end. One of the things we have to be careful about is despair… Don’t give up hope, it’s going to end. We are going to get a vaccine, we’re going to get it within a reasonable period of time, and when we do that together with good public health measures, we’re going to be fine. We got to guard against throwing our hands up and saying ‘My goodness, there’s no end to this, so it doesn’t make any difference what we do’, and then you get into bigger trouble than we are already in right now.”