I hope your party was worth it

Care about your community and follow the guidelines

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Emma Garber, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

By now, it’s no secret that things in Amherst are not going well.

Yesterday morning, the University of Massachusetts announced that it was entering a state of “high” risk, meaning that all in-person classes will move remote, athletics will be paused and students should sequester for at least 14 days. This comes a day after the Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported on two large parties the previous weekend.

I agree with many that the University’s planning for and handling of this semester has been disappointing. Bringing more students back to campus only a few weeks after the country had reached its peak in COVID-19 cases was a bad idea. Today though, I am most disappointed in the UMass community.

To those students who have blatantly disregarded the guidelines, I hope your partying was worth it.

I hope it was worth the over 300 new cases this week. I hope it was worth countless students being sent into quarantine only days after arriving on campus for the first time. I hope it was worth forcing the few essential, in person classes to move remote, causing students who are on campus for their academics to lose out on this opportunity. I hope it was worth putting in-person research and theses on pause. I hope it was worth students taking time off of work for the next two weeks, losing much needed money. I hope it was worth causing student athletes, who have been working tirelessly to have a safe season, to miss out on precious game time. I hope it was worth causing last semester seniors, trying to cling to some ounce of normalcy in the final months of their college careers, to lose out on some of the short time they have left. I hope it was worth putting your fellow students at risk. I hope it was worth endangering the dining hall employees, the bus drivers, the custodial staff and countless other UMass employees trying to safely earn a living. I hope it was worth burdening the livelihoods of local Amherst residents and small business owners who stand by helplessly as their community becomes a danger zone.

Before returning to Amherst, we all signed the same agreement. The guidelines were straightforward and easy to understand: avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, maintain social distancing. Yes, these are minor inconveniences, but we’re in a pandemic. In fact, we have been in a pandemic for almost 11 months now. Mask-wearing and social distancing aren’t new concepts. We are all aware of what is and isn’t safe. And yes, in the eleventh month of this virus, we are all exhausted. We all wish we could return to normal, that the once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic didn’t occur right in the prime of our college years. Unfortunately, it did. Ignoring this reality only prolongs everyone’s return to normal. Ignoring this reality is a luxury that not everyone can afford.

While I could take the time to explain how ignoring the guidelines not only endangers oneself, but everyone around them, this isn’t new information. Frankly, those students who partied in the midst of a pandemic were well aware of the danger of their actions. Yet they chose to party anyway, even sneaking around security cameras to avoid facing the consequences of their selfishness. In the coming days, the university should punish these students accordingly. The UMass administration must hold student violators accountable.

To those students choosing to party right now, there is nothing I can say that will convince you to care about other people. This is a decision we all must make for ourselves. Choosing to put others at risk for the sake of your own enjoyment is a decision you will have to live with.

But hey, at least the party will be fun.

Emma Garber can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @EmmaGarber1.