Of course it’s easy to circumvent the rules and get into your friends’ dorms — nobody’s going to stand guard to make sure you live in that building. That’s not the point.

The University has set out certain guidelines to keep us safely operating through to Thanksgiving. Buses are at 50% capacity, while Starbucks asks that only five customers be inside the space at a time. 

It would be naively unrealistic for anyone — University administration included — to assume students are going to follow these rules to the letter. UR can’t feasibly provide its own far-reaching enforcement, so they’re leaving it up to us, hoping that we’ll half-assedly follow enough of the rules to prevent an outbreak. They gave us enough rope to hang ourselves.

It’s up to us. We can’t rely on Starbucks employees to stop someone from taking a test sip and forgetting to pull their mask back up. A single employee serves hundreds of students each shift. By the 20th reminder that day, they’re tired of asking. It would take herculean willpower to keep it up for an entire shift, let alone a week, let alone a semester.

You have to police yourself and your friends, because the University can’t. Whether or not these rules should be properly enforced is beside the point. They won’t be, and it’s up to the individuals to check themselves. 

As we all arrive on campus these next few days, we have a unique opportunity to develop one of two cultures. The peer pressure could swing either way. Our social circles could get increasingly more comfortable with taking risks until it snowballs into throwing a full-blown party, or we could hold each other accountable. We must be active bystanders against selfishly irresponsible actions, even if it’s your good friend laughing off the rules. The people you trust can still get you sick.

Yeah, we’re young, and will probably be fine as individuals, but it’s not about your personal exhaustion. It’s about the fact that if we have uncontrollable outbreaks, we will get shut down, and we will get sent home, and we might not come back. 

Worst of all, in any one person’s selfish efforts to enjoy their college years by sharing joints, drinks, and the latest party location, we might hurt or kill people on this campus.

Some of your classmates could have preexisting conditions. Plenty of professors are in their 70s. Most faculty members are over 40. And staff members have their own social circles outside the UR bubble that they have to worry about infecting, too.

When college campuses got shut down back in March, we students all cracked jokes at the legitimacy of the danger to ourselves. We’re young, we’re healthy, we can handle the spicy flu

But that’s not always true. Maybe you won’t die, but you might permanently damage your otherwise healthy lungs, or have a stroke at the ripe old age of 20. Even if that doesn’t happen, chances are you’ll have a really unpleasant couple of weeks. 

We all want a vaccine, but nobody knows when that’s coming. Wearing a mask and staying apart is what we have right now.

On the subject of masks, cover your nose. If you only put on one leg of your pants, how useful are they? Your nose sticking out and spraying viral particles all over the room completely defeats the purpose. The half-mask look is the worst fashion statement you could make. It says “I am only wearing this because I have to, and I don’t care if I’m endangering everyone around me.” 

If we want to finish this semester out, and keep returning to normal, all of us have to properly don the minorly inconvenient PPE and take a semester off from partying. It’s not about you. It’s about collective action.

Almost a fifth of our campus isn’t actually coming back, due to travel restrictions, money issues, or health concerns, all of which are symptoms of the pandemic. The better we fulfill our public health obligations, the sooner our remote peers can come back.

Those of us moving to Rochester this week have a shot at restoring a shred of normalcy to our lives. Once again, we have the chance to develop a home away from home. Keep that home safe. Take social distancing seriously. 

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, and Opinions Editor Lucy Farnham.

Tagged: COVID-19

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