Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Column: It's time to end the 'college kids doing college things' excuse

September 22, 2020
Kappa Kappa Gamma's sorority house has been put under mandated quarantine as of September 17. Houses with required quarantine guidelines are marked with a yellow paper on the front door. Shot on September 17, 2020.
Kappa Kappa Gamma's sorority house has been put under mandated quarantine as of September 17. Houses with required quarantine guidelines are marked with a yellow paper on the front door. Shot on September 17, 2020. —
Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News
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Despite on-campus students never stepping foot on campus for the fall 2020 semester, Michigan State has a COVID-19 outbreak on its hands as 25 fraternities and sororities have been ordered to quarantine. This news came just days after 11 fraternities voted not to place a moratorium on social events or parties due to the pandemic.

In a recent video from CBS, a police officer confronted students from Miami University for having a party that violated the limit of people allowed at an event. After running the ID’s of the students, the officer realized that the residents of the house had all tested positive for COVID-19.

As a student at MSU who has been living off campus and abiding by all of the guidelines established by MSU and Ingham County, I was infuriated by the video and frustrated by the lack of care and thought from so many college students who have displayed acts of carelessness over the last month since we have started the school year.

Despite knowing I would get even more frustrated, I scrolled to the comment section and found a common theme.

For years, we have normalized college students committing reckless behavior. We have watched videos of college students jump off of a rooftop onto a table, drink way more than they are capable of and tell others that we shouldn’t ruin a student's life after they committed a crime directly affecting others. College students have been taught that they can do what they want without consequence because we are just “college kids doing college kids things.”

Then we act surprised when college students don’t take the pandemic seriously.

That still does not excuse how some have chosen to handle the pandemic. In the video from CBS, the student who is questioned by the police officer claims that they are quarantining because they are at their home, despite the nearly 10 guests they had over at the house. In addition, the student also claims that he is unaware of the gathering guidelines set in the area. 

After six excruciating months of this pandemic, this student and every other college student understands what is allowed and what isn’t. For the last few months, the guidelines have been drilled into our heads time and time again. However, some chose to ignore it.

They chose to ignore it not just because they think they can get away with it, but because they think they won’t get sick. Even if the true problem wasn’t that you continue to spread the disease to other people who may be at risk, young adults can still feel serious effects from COVID-19 as well.

In a study done at the UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital, researchers say that one-third of young adults may face severe COVID-19 symptoms if they were to test positive for the virus. Among one of the reasons young adults are at risk is the rise of vaping among college students, according to the study. 

The fact of the matter is, while a healthy young adult is less at-risk for COVID-19 than their grandmother, there is still an incredible risk of not only spreading it to their grandmother but also for young adults their age as well. 

More than anything I want to have my full college experience restored where I can walk around campus, meet new people and do college kid things. Although, not if it comes at the expense of others' safety and lives. We as a community need to grasp this concept.

We as college students need to understand that as much as we want to throw that rager of a party and scream "Mr. Brightside" on the top of our lungs, the potential consequences of that action are much worse than the $500 fine or being suspended. People’s lives are on the line too.

As a college student, I’ve made dumb mistakes too. I’ve had those mornings where I wake up regretting all my actions from the previous night. I’ve made choices knowing that I was choosing to have fun over what was the responsible choice. I even just got done standing in line for over an hour to buy three gallons of ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store knowing full well that it was a terrible decision for my student journalist wallet and health.

As college students, we’re experiencing real independence for the first time. We have free reign to make whatever decisions we want. We are destined to eventually make mistakes, that’s the whole point of college. If you went through college without making some kind of mistake that forced you to call your parents, family or friends to get some advice or to help bail you out — figuratively or literally — then you didn’t have the real experience.

However, after six months of learning about how serious this virus is, there is no excuse to be throwing ragers right now. You know what you’re doing, and we have to be better than that.

Like so many other young generations, we have the chance to break the norm. Let’s do it.

Let’s show our parents and our politicians that we can make the hard decisions. That we can sacrifice traveling to the nearest fraternity basement to make sure that we can all stay safe. That as 18- to 22-year-olds, we are really adults and can handle ourselves in the real world.

Let’s end the stigma of “college kids doing college kid things” so we can sing "Mr. Brightside" with our friends again before our time in college is over.

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