It was March. I was alone in my freshman dorm room after my roommate vacated her half of the room. I just got off the phone with my mother, and I was furious.
I was being forced to go home due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the series of events that occurred on my second-to-last night in my first-year dorm room, which marked the end of my freshman year of college, at least the part spent on campus.
In all reality, there was no reason for me to stay. By that point, my roommate had left, my track season was cancelled and all my classes moved to online learning.
Yet there was nothing more that I wanted than to remain on campus. Even if I was confined to my dorm room, just being there made all the difference to me. And besides, I felt safer in the remote, tiny, close-knit town of Albion than I did back in my home in Oakland County, which is where one of the first two positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan erupted.
When people were first told to quarantine, it was made abundantly clear by government officials that essential shopping centers and facilities were to remain open, such as grocery stores, walk-in clinics and hospitals. People were also cautioned to only buy what they needed. Despite this, many panicked, and bought goods in mass quantities, which eventually caused the toilet paper shortage of 2020.
Many continued to resist other government mandated orders that were put in place in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. Soon, weeks turned into months, and people grew more and more tired of remaining in quarantine conditions. The longevity of this pandemic is what I believe led to the shift in mindset from, “This will work if we just remain patient,” to, “Well, if others are not following the rules, then why should I?”
It’s the latter of the two mindsets, coupled with the lack of sound leadership within our country, that has caused over 220,000 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19.
So, when students were informed that we would be able to return to campus, I was completely convinced that no matter what, my peers, to the best of their abilities, would follow the guidelines that our administration laid out, especially after we had already seen and heard of other colleges having to close due to students’ negligence and disregard of the rules put in place.
One can imagine my surprise whenever I see students walking into dining centers with no masks, or whenever I overhear conversations on how some students refused to fill out their “daily symptoms” on the Aura App, or when I see students posting on social media about leaving campus unapproved.
Every time there’s a new positive case on campus, every time we have to quarantine all over again and every time more restrictions are put in place, I get more and more frustrated.
There are plenty of students on campus who are following the rules, filling out their Aura App, going and getting tested at the proper times and wearing masks like they are attached to their faces.
But there are still many who are not, and that poses a problem, one I believe we have seen on a larger scale in the United States.
This is the mindset I find myself noticing more and more of in our Albion community. More students are beginning to feel like it is hopeless to follow each and every rule when their classmates are not doing the same.
It’s incredibly frustrating having certain privileges being taken away when positive cases spike on campus, because it feels like I, a student who is following the rules, am being punished for the actions of a few.
That’s exactly what’s happening.
As a result, the negligence of a few is slowly becoming the negligence of the many. I’m beginning to become more afraid of my fellow classmates than I am of this virus.