In mid-March, there hadn't been a confirmed case of coronavirus in the state of Iowa, and its Department of Public Health was cautiously repeating advice from the Centers for Disease Control advising us to wash our hands more often and more thoroughly.
In the city of Sheldon, the Northwest Iowa Community College had not yet cancelled its in-person classes, although college president Dr. Alethea F. Stubbe did suggest that maybe it was a good time for students to "possibly even reconsider" both international and domestic travel. In an update posted on its newly launched COVID-19 site, she also wrote that the custodial staff had started regularly sanitizing all of the doorknobs on campus. So on Friday, March 13, there was a sense of caution and concern, but classes were still going ahead as scheduled, and residence halls were still open.
This is all to say that there's no reason why three Northwest Iowa Community College students should've been bored enough to peel the dry skin off their feet, mix their actual human skin into a bag of shredded cheese, then sit back and watch while their roommate unknowingly ate it.
But according to NWestIowa.com, that's exactly what happened. The alleged incident took place at 6 p.m. on March 13, but the students were not picked up by the Sheldon Police Department until this week.
On Monday, 20-year-old Lindsey Ann Cundiff, a nursing student and member of the All-Iowa Academic Team; Kyiah Elaine Kastner, a 19-year-old former Honor List student; and 20-year-old Ellie Thompson were all charged with assault in the incident. The student who ate the skin shavings was only identified as "a fourth roommate," and the cursed bag of cheese was consumed in their Osceola Hall dorm room on the school's campus.
"We hold the quality of instruction and safety of our students and employees as our highest priorities," Kristin Kollbaum, a spokesperson for the college, told VICE in an email. "We are aware of the incident and are cooperating with the proper authorities in the investigation." (VICE has also reached out to the Sheldon Police Department but has not yet received a response.)
That student was so close to getting off campus without eating pieces of another person's epidermis. Five days after the alleged skin-in-the-cheese assault, Northwest Iowa Community College closed all of its residence halls and cancelled all of its in-person classes. As of this writing, the school is online-only until at least May 20, when its summer term is scheduled to begin.
We don't know whether that Fourth Roommate will be returning to finish his or her education, but we hope they live with someone else next year.