By Natalie Daniels
From left and right, news breaks about universities deciding to move from in-person to virtual after a record-breaking spike in COVID-19 cases. After 135 cases at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, the school felt scrutinized enough to send their students home after 9 days. Other schools like Michigan State University, Ithaca College, and UMASS Amherst decided to completely move their classes online before the fall semester even started to prevent a rise in cases.
One culprit of these rises-parties. When throwing parties, students lose their sense of social distancing and wearing masks. Recently, 11 Northeastern students were sent home after being found hanging together in a Westin Hotel where the college placed them for the semester. Students at Miami University who tested positive for COVID-19 were caught on camera at a large house party off-campus.
Even looking through my own social media, I see people I knew from high school hanging out and partying in big groups. It’s frustrating that although so many people, including myself, are taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, some students don’t care.
There are two mindsets to explain this behavior. One mindset is that certain young people believe that they are invincible and the virus won’t affect them. Reports have shown that even young healthy people are dangerously and fatally affected.
The other mindset is that students want to enjoy their college years. After many colleges sent students home in March, many feel they need to socially reconnect with people after being isolated for so long. They feel the urge to continue to live their youth.
I can understand that perspective. I, too, am a college student upset that my final year is vastly different than I had hoped. At the same time though, I understand the need to protect myself and others. There are ways you connect with others without seeing them in person. With the rise of social media, there is no excuse for not visiting with your friends through platforms like Zoom, Facetime, or even Google Meet.
During this time, large parties are a tone-deaf response to the lives lost during COVID-19. It’s the responsibility of everyone to be as safe as they can to prevent the spread of the virus. According to UC Davis health experts, social distancing reduces the risk of transmitting the virus by 90% while wearing a mask reduces the risk by 65%.
It also lies in universities’ hands for the influx of cases during COVID-19. Unfortunately, due to human nature, some students can’t be trusted with maintaining 6 feet at all times, not gathering in large groups, and wearing masks. Many colleges weighed their options depending on their student body. While some colleges like NYU made the choice to go completely remote, colleges like UNC, with a huge student population, opted for in-person classes. This eventually lead to students being sent home.
As a young person, it’s difficult living my college years during a pandemic. I know it’s hard for everyone. But no one is alone. Each college student is struggling while learning to adapt to this new COVID world. It is everyone’s job to make smart choices regarding their safety. It’s not just the safety of yourself though, it is the safety of others around you. Now is the time to act selflessly instead of selfishly.
As the nation continues to deal with COVID head-on, we as students need to understand how every decision we make will affect several people besides ourselves. We’re in this together. Let’s start acting like it.
Natalie Daniels is an editorial intern for Dreamlette. She is a journalism major at Emerson College with a love of storytelling. Her favorite topics include entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, social issues, and music.