Last year, Halloween meant Halloween parties. This year, the same could put us all in danger.
We need to resist our desire for the ooky, the spooky, and the supernatural, and focus on what’s right in front of us. Your actions this year have the power to endanger people’s lives. The CDC, anticipating that upcoming holidays may pose an increased transmission risk, recently released a set of guidelines for this year’s celebrations.
When we were asked to keep each other safe on a normal day, several of us — members of the University and Americans in general — remained obstinate and unwilling to step up. We haven’t changed that much since March. The CDC realizes that, and they realize that Halloween only further incentivizes the exact sort of callousness we exhibited back when all of this was just starting.
Halloweekend is approaching, but don’t take that as an opportunity to ruin things. Somehow, we haven’t been sent home and UR isn’t completely online. We’re doing so well keeping our campus open and free from outbreaks, but we’re one unmasked party away from shutting everything down.
Just look at St. John Fisher, another Rochester-area college. They were sitting at a comfortable and reasonable four cases until a few weeks ago. Since Oct. 10, they’ve jumped to 52 cases. Now, their campus is closing for the semester. Fisher students have to pack up and return home before their classes resume on Monday. The school warned that the spread seemed to be “related to small group gatherings without masks or social distancing.”
It’s not just colleges, either. COVID-19 cases are rising in Monroe County, and we now have the highest number of active cases since July.
Either due to a lack of administrative support, or a lack of student interest, there is little programming during Halloweekend. With this lack of alternatives, students are going to be tempted to test their COVID-19 luck.
We know you’re going to cut corners, and as we’ve established, the University doesn’t have the manpower to check every student. We’re frustrated and disappointed in how little follow-up there is for students that skip out on mandatory COVID-19 testing and students that routinely ignore the Dr. ChatBot emails.
But the University’s lack of a Big Brother-style surveillance system and your peers’ COVID-19 weariness doesn’t give you a pass. COVID-19 is still very real and very much a threat, and the entire campus will suffer the consequences if you ignore that.
Regardless of whether the University is dropping the ball (they are), you’re an adult who is capable of understanding the impact of your actions, even if nobody is punishing you when you break the rules. Even if you’re a first-year, even if you’re desperate to finally have the true college party experience — hold off.
In case you need a refresher, the University Code of Conduct applies to all students, not just those living on campus, and the consequences for a COVID-19-related rule violation can range from the loss of certain privileges (like going to classes in person) to expulsion. If you live on campus but go to an off campus party, you could still lose your University housing for your behavior.
Would you be able to sleep at night if you got pulled for testing after a Halloweekend bender, and it came back positive? Could you look at yourself in the mirror if the party you went to were later identified as the reason students got sent home three weeks early? Do you want to prematurely shut down the possibility of a more relaxed spring semester?
You’re just one more person in the room, but if everybody thinks like you, the party gets packed. Your mere presence in a room influences the actions of your peers.
Be cognizant of the power even your most mundane actions wield.
Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security by your friends attending parties and not getting COVID-19 right away. It’s called an incubation period for a reason, and you won’t know the effects of your ill-advised actions until it’s too late.
We don’t care how hard it is. If you think you and your friends are heading to a small kick-back, but you walk in the door and there are 35+ people passing around joints and Juuls and drinks, turn around and walk out.
We’re college kids, too. We understand wanting to have a good time and celebrate a weekend. It’s hard when you don’t have an off campus friend whose house can be the hangout spot.
But there’s a difference between spooky fun and life-threatening risk-taking. Spooky is jump scares and cobwebs and ghost costumes. The coronavirus is life-threatening, and it’s not a welcome addition to Halloween.
The Editorial Board is a weekly Opinions article representing the view of the Campus Times, co-written by Editor-in-Chief Hailie Higgins, Publisher An Nguyen, Managing Editor Corey Miller-Williams, Features Editor Micah Greenberg, and Opinions Editor Lucy Farnham.