By now, everyone has heard “stay 6 feet apart,” “wear a mask” and “wash your hands,” but living through a pandemic is about more than just social distancing and a piece of fabric.
We, as students, have to be responsible, hold each other accountable and acknowledge that the pandemic is a real concern.
This issue is bigger than ourselves.
Use a mindset of inclusivity to guide your thoughts and actions. We are a generation of acceptance and environmental consciousness, and that should be exemplified through this global crisis.
It comes down to respecting one another. If you are on campus, you made an agreement to come here and follow the guidelines put in place by the university for everyone’s safety, including your own.
People want to be here and engage in the college experience before having to return home for Thanksgiving break. If you didn’t want to follow the expectations, then you could have opted out of being on campus.
Already, students have spotted house parties with an inappropriate amount of people where social distancing is not taking place and masks are not being utilized.
COVID-19 affects everyone differently, and lots of students may not experience severe symptoms, but you don’t know who has an underlying condition.
At this time, it’s fair to hold each other accountable, especially considering we all decided to return to campus and expect to get our money’s worth. If you see a house consistently holding big parties, you can report them using the university’s COVID-19 non-compliance form. A little self-policing is in order for these times.
And if you cannot hold yourself from having to party, then it’s time we compromise.
Instead of having big parties during a pandemic, choose a smaller group of people as a “friend pod” or “party pod.” These are people you trust, people you will consistently hang around and know who they have interacted with.
If we want to stay on campus for as long as possible, we need to stop inviting copious amounts of strangers into our houses. It’s time to tone it down, not for the sake of killing fun but for the sake of keeping each other safe and preserving in-person classes.
If you’re still not convinced of the seriousness, take a look at our neighbors to the east. Many universities across the country have experienced outbreaks, including University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. They had to enforce restrictions on its campus for two weeks following large outbreaks. It was believed to have stemmed from weekend parties that ignored health guidelines.
Illinois State has seen over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 already. According to the New York Times, McLean County sits on the list of “Counties with the highest number of recent cases per resident” with 813 cases since last Thursday.
The point here is not to say these two institutions are feeling the effects because of their size. These institutions are affecting their communities.
In Normal last week, mayor Chris Koos temporarily prohibited large gatherings near campus and required customers of bars and restaurants serving alcohol to be seated to be served, to wear face coverings and observe social-distancing measures, according to WGLT.
It seems like a small adjustment, but this could lead to more severe consequences if it doesn’t stop and that will start to affect local businesses, which have already been struggling.
Bradley’s COVID-19 rates can affect Peoria and the larger region. Outbreaks related to large parties could be a contributing factor.
So if you decide you won’t have a house party and instead want to take a trip on the town, keep the same idea of respect in your mind. What you bring into that establishment could shut down that establishment for deep cleaning.
A respect for each other as students is necessary to make sure we get through this school year. It’s about a respect for Peoria residents who live and don’t get to leave the area. When you decide to break the rules, everyone feels the consequences in this situation, whether you acknowledge it or not.