We are living in dangerously weird times. And things just keep getting weirder…
Everywhere you look, institutions are burning, safety-nets are snagging, people are getting sick.
The White House. New York City. Chapel Hill.
We all know this. We are witnessing it, experiencing it, living it.
But what are we doing about it? What can we do about it? And why’s it up to us?
Normally, as young people, we lead.
The 3rd Precinct. The protests. Climate rallies.
But now is not normal.
The things we recognize and value most as individuals and as entire generations—life, liberty, op- portunity—truly seem to be “hanging in the balance” before our eyes, ready to burst into some perpetual flame or to disintegrate into nothing at the most un- suspecting trigger.
For this moment, our actions—for better or for worse—may be that trigger.
What we do each day throughout the coronavirus pandemic genuinely can be a matter of life and death for ourselves and for those around us.
So, let us be careful and considerate.
Often our efforts are rooted in the systemic failures of those in power to meet a massively influential mo- ment with an adequately equipped solution, and now is not different.
We are not shocked when our government fails us, because that is all we have known it to do. We know that no one is coming to save us, so we figure out ways to save ourselves and build each other up.
Meanwhile, we do what we can to make life a little bit easier for each of us in this struggle together.
And that is precisely what we must do now.
No matter how badly we yearn for a return to pre- pandemic campus life, we cannot go back in time. We can only go forward. So, we must not pretend. We al- ready have seen what happens if we choose to pretend.
We have seen what is happening at University of North Carolina, where only the first couple weeks upon returning to campus have seen coronavirus positivity rates across campus rise from just 13% to nearly 32%. We have seen what is happening at Notre Dame, at Michigan State, and on college campuses across America as thousands of students mistakenly operate according to this unattainable premise of “getting back to normal.”
According to The New York Times, more than 17,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded across more than 650 U.S. universities since the beginning of the fall semester, with several campuses, including those of UNC, Michigan State and Drexel, already hav- ing reported “sizable outbreaks.”
Things right now are anything but normal. So, let us act like it…
Learning from history and from experience, we understand that such desperate, delicate moments in life often necessitate a similarly special, drastic response on our behalf.
A recent NYT report states: “Early outbreaks at dozens of colleges have underscored the yawning gap between policy and enforcement— and the limitations of any college to control the behavior of young people who are paying for the privilege to attend classes.”
This is precisely correct.
Perhaps our universities have a responsibility to better protect us.
Perhaps there is not much more they could do to help anyway.
Regardless, each of us is in control of our own behavior, and we must be aware of our responsibilities.
So, let us meet this moment.
As explained in a recent U.S. News report about coronavirus outbreaks on college cam- puses: “The success of colleges and universities reopening in person this academic year always hinged on the ability of students to adhere to campus restrictions at the level required to prevent new COVID-19 infections. At Purdue University, for example, where students began moving into residence halls last week ahead of in-person instruction beginning Aug. 24, students were required to sign the sign the ‘Protect Purdue Pledge,’ which asks them to commit to ‘at least a semester of inconvenience,’ including forgoing concerts, convocations, fraternity par- ties and more.”
While we may not be asked to sign some pledge here at Marshall, we all should be willing to commit to ‘at least a semester of inconve- nience’ following sometimes-tedious health and safety precautions to avoid making an awful sit- uation worse.
Although we are back on campus, let us not commit the costly mistake of negligence while knowing better.
When so many are struggling, let us continue to do our part to minimize the dangers faced by the most vulnerable amongst us.
When so many are sick and at-risk of becoming unwell, let us be responsible and take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.
Follow the health guidelines as best as you can.
Be responsible for yourself and for the rest of us.
Let us do our part to act responsibly and to keep each other safe.
Regarding health and safety, listen to global health experts, not campaigning politicians.
For coronavirus information specific to Mar- shall University, visit https://www.marshall. edu/coronavirus/.
For coronavirus information from the Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ index.html.