Last Thursday, walking across South Quad, I overheard the following conversation between two freshmen girls:
“I heard there was some party on South Quad?”
“Yeah, well I was there.”
“Oh! How was that?”
I’m frustrated. I’m disheartened. And most of all, I’m angry.
The complete selfishness and lack of empathy that some students in our community have shown since returning to campus is atrocious. Going to off-campus parties with many other people without wearing masks or practicing physical distancing. Doing the same, but on South Quad or McGlinn Fields. Accepting that these are normal things to do. My friend even saw a priest and an AR come back from around the lakes after collecting smashed beer cans that students had left the night before. It’s bad enough that students are participating in these parties, then to litter and leave the clean-up to others on campus that are trying so hard to keep them safe? I don’t have words to describe how selfish that is. And of course, there is the predictable uptick of COVID-19 cases that have accompanied such irresponsibility.
Some students seem to think that because they are younger, a pandemic won’t impact them personally as much, or at all. And perhaps for many, that’s true. They might get COVID, spend a week or so feeling sick, then recover and go on with their lives. What some fail to realize, even after living through months of a pandemic, is that the world doesn’t revolve around them. The stakes here are very high and very real. Some students might think the worst thing that could happen is that we transition to online classes. While that wouldn’t be ideal for the sake of learning, it’s not even the beginning of the negative effects a COVID outbreak could bring about.
Some professors have sent emails to their classes, practically begging students not to party, because if they get the virus and pass it to their professor, it is likely they will not survive. There are immunocompromised and otherwise vulnerable faculty, staff and students. Not to mention the impact we as students have on how COVID affects the South Bend community, which is largely made up of Hispanic/Latino and Black residents, who are already disproportionately affected by COVID. This isn’t just about you as a healthy 18-22 year old college student; it’s much larger. Although if you haven’t gotten that through your head at month five of a global pandemic, it’s likely not a lack of understanding, but a complete disregard for the lives, safety and well-being of those other than yourself.
I chose to move off campus this year because I didn’t trust that the students on campus would actually follow the protocols the University has put in place to keep us and our community safe. I really had hoped that I would be wrong in thinking this, but I have been extremely disappointed over the past week to find out that not only was I right, but the problem is much worse than I thought it would be. And sadly, the problem seems to stem mainly from off-campus students who, because they are not on campus, think they are exempt from following COVID protocols. These students, so far, have been the ones who have caused the largest number of COVID cases in the student body, and they are also less likely to be negatively impacted by a transition to online classes, because they will not have to move out of dorms or necessarily drive/fly home. Maybe this is why these students seem to care less about following protocols, which is even more selfish, because their carelessness will ultimately have an impact on those other than themselves.
To those of you not taking this seriously — is maintaining the norm of partying really that important to you that you’re willing to sacrifice the lives of the Notre Dame and South Bend communities?
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.