Crowding places without masks is dumb
by Abbey Delk
The first weeks after students return to college campuses are always a period of unbridled revelry. Young adults who spent the summer in dead-end minimum wage jobs reunite with old friends and can once again entertain the possibility of getting laid on a twin XL mattress. Freshmen, free from parents’ watchful eyes for the first time, scramble to establish social circles and show their new friends how quickly they can poison themselves with Svedka and Bud Light. It is a time of new beginnings and crippling hangovers.
This year, Fordham students returning to the Bronx are more starved for social interaction than ever before. Most of us spent the last six months trapped in our childhood bedrooms, slowly driven insane by our family members. We lost internship and study abroad opportunities. Freshmen lost high school proms and graduation ceremonies. Some of us even lost loved ones. We all just want to feel like life is good again.
But, alas, the pandemic rages on, with case numbers falling in some regions only to dramatically spike in others. “Social distancing” and “quarantine” are still part of our daily vocabulary. Life still isn’t normal, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how much longer we will have to wait before we can hang up our face masks and return to business as usual.
Fordham, for its part, has taken measures to prevent and plan for outbreaks this semester. (Well, aside from not inviting us back to campus in the first place.) Masks are required on campus at all times. Guests are not allowed in residence halls. In-person events are capped at 50 attendees.
But no matter what rules it has in place, the university will never be able to stop its student body from doing what we do best: getting wasted and acting like assholes.
I get it. Quarantine is boring, and you all want that “classic college experience” you’re overpaying Fordham to provide. But when we pack ourselves into tiny apartments and bars by the dozens without masks, we look like idiots. And we look even more stupid when we then post photo evidence of these illegal gatherings online.
One only needs to follow the Fordham meme page @lc_sinners on Instagram to get an idea of how little some of our student body cares for the safety of their peers and their Bronx community. Pictures of students crammed together at bars, flagrantly disregarding both Fordham policy and New York City law, are disheartening but unsurprising.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the rational part of the human brain does not fully develop until age 25. Watching my peers throw ragers amid the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes, I would say this checks out.
Perhaps part of this disregard for basic decency results from the mixed messages Fordham itself has sent to our community. @lc_sinners posted photos of orientation leaders gathered in a large group on Eddie’s for an event before classes even started. Though some OLs later disputed the claim that the gathering had been unsafe, the decision to hold such an unnecessary large gathering still raised eyebrows. The university had also planned to hold the traditional candle lighting ceremony for the freshman class in-person and only moved the event online after concerned students argued that a gathering of over one thousand students was unwise, according to an article in the Observer.
When Fordham imposes strict policies regarding social distancing and then doubles back on those same policies when it is convenient for the administration, it sends a message to students that these new rules aren’t worth respecting. If Fordham doesn’t walk the walk, why does it expect its socially-starved student body to do the same?
But I’m not letting you social butterflies off the hook. It’s no Harvard (sorry Father McShane), but I still expect Fordham to have attracted students who possess at least basic common sense. I think you understand that going to off-campus parties and crowding into bars increases the likelihood that an outbreak of COVID-19 will happen at Fordham. We’ve all been beaten to death with pleas from health experts and politicians to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing whenever possible. Some of you, impossibly, still haven’t grasped this concept.
Or maybe you do understand this, and you just don’t care. If this is the case, appealing to your basic human empathy won’t do much. You won’t be dissuaded when I point out that by gathering in big crowds without masks, you are putting the Bronx community at risk, a community that was hit incredibly hard by the virus and might not withstand another lockdown. You don’t care that you are risking the safety of classmates and Fordham faculty and staff who are immunocompromised or live with family members and friends who are high risk. You don’t care that there is a real possibility that an outbreak at Fordham could kill someone.
So I’ll appeal to the selfish part of your brain and remind you that if partying causes an outbreak, it could shut down the school. We’ll all go home to live with our lame parents who will shame us for sleeping in until 2 p.m. on weekdays. We will have to say goodbye to our friends once again and go back to taking classes in our family living rooms, our mothers walking into our Zoom calls every 10 minutes with the vacuum running at full volume.
We’re all back on campus because we didn’t want to live this way. We want to be here. We want to feel normal again. But life isn’t normal, and it’s time to face the facts. No drunken hook-up or Saturday “darty” is worth having to move back home for. If these parties cause an outbreak, you won’t have just screwed over your peers. You’ll have screwed yourself too.
Get wasted in the privacy of your dorm rooms and apartments. Get a hobby. And most importantly, get a grip.