Avoid parties so we can stay on campus

Owen Peterson

Nearly six months after the spring semester was moved entirely online, the campus is finally ready to welcome back students; but with this opportunity comes great responsibility.

In order to adapt to COVID-19, the university has instituted many measures to help prevent the spread of the virus between students, but these measures are only effective so long as students abide by them.

Some of the precautions that UWO is taking include requiring mask-wearing inside all buildings, reducing the capacity in the dining halls, making gathering places social-distance friendly by marking off seats, and limiting events to 50 people or less.

Before the start of the semester, the university also implemented an “alert level” system, which is designed to show how the university will respond to COVID-19 at certain levels of severity.

This fall semester will begin at the “moderate” alert level, meaning that “UWO is open and protective measures are in place,” according to the Titans Return plan.

If things get worse in terms of COVID-19 cases, the university will go to the “high” level, where classes will go primarily online and in-person gathering will be limited even more. After that, the “very high” level, in which all classes go online, the dining halls close, and students will no longer be able to live in the dorms.

On the other end of the spectrum, if things go well this semester the university will go to the “low” level, where classes will all be in person and all the buildings will operate at full capacity.

I don’t think anybody wants to relive the madness that was the second half of the spring semester, so I believe it is in the best interests of everybody to keep the campus open, even if it comes at a cost.

There will always be the temptation to go to bars, parties and other gatherings while on a college campus, and there is no way to stop this behavior from happening, but what I can’t stress enough is how important it is to make smart decisions to stay safe.

If you think you show symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have had contact with someone who has, get tested and try to limit your contact with others as much as possible. It may only take a few bad decisions to start
the spread around campus and get everything shut down.

For an example of how this semester can go awry very quickly, just look at the University of Alabama. Within the first two weeks of the university reopening, over 1,000 students tested positive for COVID-19.

This is not just a one-off case though, as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made all of its classes online after 177 cases were reported in the first week.

In addition to those, The University of Iowa also reported a total of 607 cases within the first week of its semester and is preparing to go online if the number of new cases does not flatten.

These high numbers, however, are probably no more the result of the university’s policies than they are a consequence of the student’s actions. The students of both of these universities flocked in mass to bars and house parties as soon as they arrived back on campus, potentially condemning themselves to another fully online semester.

This is where the challenge comes in for the students of UWO.

Needless to say, UWO is a party school itself, so it may not be entirely reasonable to expect that students will not just repeat the same mistake as these other universities, but one can hope.

If you do not want to spend another semester watching recorded lectures, completing Canvas quizzes, and spending hours in Collaborate Ultra sessions, it is very much in your best interests to not only follow the guidelines that have been set in place by the university, but to take responsibility in your free time to ensure the safety of other and keep the campus open.

While being back on campus is exciting, this is an opportunity that can be easily squandered, so it is up to all of us to make good decisions and try to make the best out of an unorthodox semester.