You chose to be here. Now choose to be here safely.

Staff Editorial

An Aug. 21 post in the University of Vermont Class of 2021 group featured a report of a party on Hyde Street, the students holding blue solo cups underneath stringed up colored lights.

The post sought to report the 75-100 person party to other students as a call to action to socially distance. Most comments on the post were dismayed and ashamed at the fact that students weren’t following COVID guidelines.

“Y’all really wanna get people sick and force us all online before Thanksgiving huh? This is so inconsiderate – especially of the seniors who are gonna have their final year screwed over because of this shit,” one student wrote.

Another expressed disappointment, but not any sense of surprise.

“It’s fucking embarrassing to be even remotely associated with these people. I’m disappointed but not surprised.” 

But one student replied with the brainless and vapid response you’d expect from someone who sees college exclusively as a social environment instead of a place for education.

The comment reads, “Boo party on.”

Over 10,000 of us chose to be here and we need to not only choose to be safe ourselves, but to put on blast those who are not.

As you take the sip of PBR or throw that ping pong ball across the table, think to yourself: How much is this party worth? A case of COVID? A life?

The decision to return or not that all students made was the product of a limited amount of choices made in vacuum. The situation leaves UVM students in the perfect position to be the bad guys.

Either way at the end of the day UVM administrators get to go home and wash their hands clean of a potential outbreak because of course, it’ll be the fault of students for taking more risks. But regardless, we’re stuck.

We have a real chance to come together as a community and work towards a mutual goal of keeping Burlington and UVM healthy and open. 

Dear potential student-party-hoster, party-goers, bar-crawlers, we’ve all got choices to make and they need to be carefully thought through because every decision we make will radiate outwards. 

Burlington has its eyes on the UVM student body. Let’s show them we can be examples of  COVID conscious citizens in an anxiety rampant college town. 

We’ve watched the last few weeks as school after school has closed or shifted to entirely remote learning. 

We can prevent that from happening here and live to continue badgering the University if we work together to keep each other safe. 

That includes: 

  • Wearing your mask at all required times. It’s required on campus and Vermont also has a mask mandate, so it’s the law. 
  • Carry around hand sanitizer and use it throughout the day.
  • Don’t throw or go to parties, a very clear recipe for disaster and the spread of COVID. 
  • If you see students violating the safety guidelines not only put out by UVM, but also the state of Vermont they need to be put on blast. 
  • Accurately and truthfully report your symptoms on the Coverified app.
  • In high traffic situations keep social distance and for the love of god walk on the right side of the hallways. 

Although the onus should be on Administration to keep us safe, they have handed off a monumental amount of responsibility to us.

At the same time, we have to continue to demand more from UVM. Don’t let up on the administration just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We deserve the truth and the whole picture at all times. 

We need to continue to push the University to guarantee timely access to test results to students and demand they make a more comprehensive dashboard that gives a live look at test results. 

A great model is the State of Vermont’s dashboard, which is updated daily and available to the public.

Although the administration should bear a significant amount of the burden to be responsible for students and their needs it’s clear that student groups need to fill that void. 

Student groups are critical to ensuring this semester proceeds as safely as possible. That means these groups need to make sure the information they’re putting out to the student population is factual. 

When you’ve assumed the role of a campus leader, students look to you and that means whether you anticipated it or not you have greater responsibilities. The only way to get the administration to take us seriously if we are rock solid on all facts about our situation.

We need to lead by example. Everyone is wondering how others are going to act and are going to make their own decisions based on what they observe.

At the same time, University administrators need to be held accountable and pushed to provide us essential services we are paying for. 

However, we’re here, so we have to make the most of it. 

For some of us, this is our first college experience and first time away from home. When you graduate senior year of high school and leave to go to college, you are expected to explore and learn things about yourself with a new freedom.

We know this is going to be especially difficult for these students. 

We have to push each other to do better and show the community around us that we won’t fall victim to a situation in which our options have been limited by those who are supposed to care about us. 

We will rise past this strange moment in UVM history and show what students are capable of because the alternative is something far less desired.