Students are finding ways to bypass USC’s Trojan Check system. Now students can avoid answering the symptom questions or even avoid COVID testing and still enter campus. Anthony Robledo has more on the story.
To help slow the coronavirus spread, USC requires that students complete a health screening to enter campus.
Vaccinated students, unvaccinated grad students and employees must be tested once a week. Unvaccinated undergrad students must be tested twice a week.
USC employees scan a barcode students receive by completing an online health screening and by being tested regularly for COVID-19. If students say they show no symptoms and regularly test negative, they can access campus.
However, some are evading the process by answering the questions as a guest as they don’t have to be tested.
Melanie Toh, a sophomore majoring in computer science, says that Trojan Check is effective to a certain extent as USC can’t enforce honesty.
TOH: But symptoms wise, I think a lot of people lie because, like, there’s so many people coughing in my classes that it makes me feel uneasy.
She says it’s insensitive for people to avoid COVID testing as many people on campus are immunocompromised or have older family with underlying health issues.
Chloe Higgins, a junior majoring in American pop culture, says that Trojan Check incentivizes students to lie. She says that it’s not reasonable to miss class if someone shows symptoms because that doesn’t mean they have COVID-19.
As someone with asthma, she says that she regularly has difficulty breathing but no longer notes that on Trojan Check’s questionnaire. She recalled an experience where she missed class because she had answered that question truthfully.
HIGGINS: I think I 100 percent know so many people lie on the front and check just so they can, like, come on campus because like, you pay what, eighty thousand dollars a year here, like you’re going to go on campus.
Zack Rocklin-Waltch, a junior acting student, says that Trojan Check is just a way for the school to not be responsible for spread of the virus.
ROCKLIN-WALTCH: I don’t know how much is actually doing and I don’t know how much it’s actually preventing COVID from spreading. But sure, it’s nice to feel like there’s something.
At a press conference last week, Dr. Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer of USC Student Health, said there’s always been ways to subvert systems designed to keep people safe. She said if a student wants to come on campus with symptoms, they will find a way to do that.
VAN ORMAN: If you’re a trojan and you are part of my community then you understand why we are doing this... and it’s not about finding ways to subvert the system, it’s understanding why those systems are in place.
Health metrics show it’s been the third week in row of declining COVID cases throughout LA County. Whether or not campus will reflect those metrics is yet to be known, but Van Orman says they will continue to look at data on a weekly basis.
For Annenberg Media, I’m Anthony Robledo.