Reckless student behavior is skyrocketing COVID cases in the US. Who’s ready for another lockdown?
According to the New York Times, since the onset of the pandemic, colleges have experienced over 50,000 COVID-positive cases. And these numbers continue to spike on the daily. For example, in the short period between August 28th–September 3rd, the University of Alabama witnessed another uptick of 846 new student cases. Photos and videos have surfaced showcasing large swaths of beer-thirsty students gathering outside bars, completely neglecting COVID protocols. With the count of COVID-postive cases rising across the US due to reckless adolescent behaviour, it's not unreasonable to conclude that students will be the source of our next lockdown.
Although only a handful of universities have made the headlines with regards to their students going out, partying, and spreading COVID, I guarantee without a shred of a doubt that virtually every single college in America is experiencing pandemic misconduct to a certain extent. This has prompted some universities that haven’t yet made the news to take serious precautions and implement measures to avoid negative press.
For example, just recently, Northeastern University expelled 11 students who were found in a single room in violation of both Boston's and the school's public health guidelines that prohibit "crowded gatherings." They were also dismissed without reimbursement for their tuition. Moreover, according to Vox, “Ohio State University suspended 225 students before classes even began for similar infractions.” Some institutions such as Gettysburg College are forcing students to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, and my university (UMN) has mobilized a 9pm curfew for on-campus students… looks like binge drinking and frat partying will take place during daylight hours from now on!
And speaking of fraternities, name a better place for a viral super-spreading event to occur.
With some 100 kids crammed into a sweaty, uncirculated basement drinking their brains out, getting high out of their minds, laughing, screaming and projecting saliva out of their mouths, all in very close proximity to one another (need I explain the physicality?), these students are just asking for a massive second wave. According to the Daily Beast, “College Students Are Already Itching to Sue Frats Over COVID-19.” So what’s stopped colleges from taking more action?
Allow me to explain. I attend the University of Minnesota, the second largest college campus in the US with nearly 100 frats (don’t quote me on that, but you get the picture). These fraternities are not actually technically located on the University’s campus, meaning that the frat party situation is one that the buzzkill administration cannot control. And now that my university has turned down police aid, the freakin cops no longer have the power to shut down these madhouses of contagion. Moreover, even if they wanted to, some frats have basements that are nearly soundproof, making it impossible to tell who is throwing a rager. Unless we implement prohibition-era speakeasy busts, these students will do as they please, COVID or not!
And trust me, if you think that a 9 pm curfew will actually work, it wont. Now that there is no need for you to physically sit in class, you can party any time of day! But frats aren’t the only issue here. For example what’s to stop students from gathering in each other's rooms before 9 pm to simply hang out?
The entire premise of online education was to mitigate the spread of the virus. But I knew from the very beginning, students would still return to campus even with 100% virtual curriculums. As I voiced in a recent LinkedIn post: “So, just to get this straight––students with 100% online school are flocking back to campus essentially to have fun, not follow social distancing protocols, and my university can’t do anything about it. Oh, it’s also on the path to losing upwards of $300 million dollars due to online education.”
Which leads me to my next point: what’s the solution? There are a couple that come to mind when figuring out how to address this issue:
Limit student access. Students who can complete their degree without university resources, such as laboratories for science/pre-med students, should not be allowed on campus.
Student quarantine. If students want to party, allow them to. If students want to gather, let that happen. In fact, let them infect each other. Just cage them in on campus New Rochelle style and prohibit them from entering the city or from going home. This way, a community quarantine is possible. After all, isn’t that what the students want all along? To gather, party, and forget COVID? Sounds like a dream land to any frat boy.
Financial recourse. Begin implementing substantial fines for first offense and repeated violations. Sting the students’ bank accounts, and they will oblige. They are all in debt anyways...
Although these solutions aren’t bulletproof, they are worth exploring while it’s not too late in terms of rates of infection. Without proper intervention, students can and will prompt another shutdown. You have been warned.