Correction 9/14/21: A previous version of this article stated that Rochester is the second largest city. It is, in fact, the third largest. 

It’s been three weekends since the beginning of our return to in-person classes, and parties are back in full swing — it may not be 1999, but it is 2021, and we’re partying in ways we haven’t been able to in a long time. This is exciting, for the most part, but as we emerge from pandemic hibernation, there are some downsides I haven’t been able to shake out of my head. 

I found myself reflecting on UR party culture last weekend when I ran into a hoard of students stumbling around the 19th Ward late Saturday night. We spilled into the front yards of frat houses, down the sidewalks, and out into the street. We were loud, and we took up space. We’re no longer permitted to host parties on campus — the fraternity quad now sits idle on the weekends — but our appetite for late-night gatherings has grown exponentially over the course of the pandemic, resulting in the all-too-familiar sights of our student body wandering drunkenly home over the footbridge every weekend night. 

It’s a well-known fact that UR students rarely leave campus. Despite our school being situated in a uniquely cultural and artistic location  — not to mention one of the best cities for food lovers in the country — a sharp, almost deliberate boundary lies between our school grounds and the surrounding community. This means that when we do leave campus, we act with little respect and appreciation. Next weekend, when you venture off campus for a party, I urge you to consider that people who aren’t college students have lived in the area much longer than you have. Don’t throw your empty plastic cup in the street. Try not to scream at the top of your lungs for your friends to wait for you. Stick together, be as kind as you can, and remember that families with young children live nearby. 

Rochester is the third largest city in New York State. Since we’re already walking over the bridge to attend frat parties, why can’t we push ourselves a little further and explore the city in all of its beauty? As a college student over the age of 21, there are so many incredible choices in the urban nightlife scene. I love a good grimy, slippery living room dance floor, but you can get a better experience at a nightclub like Vinyl before walking over to another bar down the street. It’s the same concept as jumping from frat house to frat house, but with better drinks, and, for some strange reason, none of your classmates. So, I ask, where are you all? What are my fellow seniors and some juniors doing? 

We won’t live in Rochester forever — some of us only have a few months left. I’m a senior now, and I’m determined to spend all of the energy that accumulated in my little body over lockdown on the experiences that were swallowed up by remote learning. Quickly, though, time is passing. The days are going by, and the nights are gone even faster. Where did all of it go

If you spend even one night out in the city of Rochester as opposed to a dimly lit frat basement, I’ll be proud of you. As September creeps forward and summer weather wanes, go out while you don’t yet have to wear a winter coat. Explore a new bar. Visit a new corner of the city. Go out for pizza. Have a drink (maybe even your first legal drink) somewhere new. We have one of the most dynamic and interesting cities in the Northeast at our fingertips. Why aren’t you grabbing it by the hand while you still can? 

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