Op-Ed: Seeing Red; Why on Earth Is the Last COVID-19 Danger Level Purple?

By Mike Wishart

This past weekend, after seeing a troubling and sudden rise in COVID-19 cases on campus, the University announced that we would be moving to Status Level Orange. This means that the RecPlex has closed, posing a serious threat to the #gains of the campus community. The Tully is now entirely grab-and- go, which is a real shame because the charming ambience almost makes you forget how terrible the food is. And all Athletics have been cancelled for the time being. Who could have predicted that huge groups of students gathering together everyday while sweating and breathing heavily in close proximity to each other would cause COVID transmission?

Prior to the announcement, I really wasn’t that well versed with the university’s COVID-19 dashboard or the color coded stages that indicate the threat posed to Fairfield’s operations. I have enough to make me anxious as it is, so I decided watching the number of positive cases tick slowly up was not the best way to spend my time. But with the news that we reached level orange, I decided to investigate the scale of threat levels, and I have not been this angry since David Cook won season 7 of “American Idol.”

The highest threat level isn’t red, like somebody with an IQ bigger than their shoe size would expect, but is instead purple. Purple. Is this some kind of joke? Why not make it magenta? Burgundy? Or turquoise perhaps? If we’re gonna make it as goofy as purple we might as well go all the way with it. In what world does purple convey dire peril to you? Nightmares about a murderous Barney the Dinosaur or drowning in an ocean of grape juice maybe. I guess Thanos is an exception, but even then that would imply that only half of us are in danger.

In order, the stages go green, yellow, orange, red, then purple. Green as the lowest threat level makes perfect sense. It conveys feelings of care-free bliss, like a spring picnic in the grass with Shrek. Or sucking down a Shamrock Shake with the Grinch after his heart grows three sizes. Next is yellow, another choice that makes sense. It makes me think about bees, good to look at and critical to the environment but you should still be careful around them. Yellow conjures up thoughts of sipping a glass of lemonade, sweet and refreshing but with just a hint of tartness. Orange is the logical next step, serving as a reminder of Agent Orange, meaning we’re really playing with fire here and this could come back to haunt us if we don’t cut it out.

Red is the next phase, and should be the last. Red alert. Red light. Mountain Dew Code Red (a.k.a Middle School Tequila, a.k.a Poor Decisions In a Bottle). These all paint a picture of unparalleled despair. This can’t be the second most dangerous stage because it makes people feel like we have reached the pinnacle of danger. Purple does not have this impact. If there is any color that should be coming after red it is brown. As in, we have a Code Brown. As in, the color of administration’s underwear if they have to recoup any more room and board money. 

In the unlikely event that you care as passionately about arbitrary color choices as I do, please feel free to reach out to Stagnation. 

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