College Towns Fuel The Pandemic

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Brianna Whipple, Staff Writer

Despite the rapid growth of Covid-19 cases around the country, college kids continue to party and have mass gatherings. They refuse to follow simple guidelines, one of the biggest being social distancing, enforced by their colleges as directed by the CDC. Nineteen out of the twenty-five biggest outbreaks in the United States lead back to college towns. Some of these colleges include Washington State, Georgia Southern, Florida State, University of Georgia, and University of Mississippi. According to citizens in Lafayette County, Mississippi, the community has seen “how [re]lax student behavior” can spread the virus. In June, a mass outbreak in the town was tied back to Greek Life Sorority recruitment. 

To try to decrease students from continuing to break guidelines, citations are being given out to those who violate social distancing rules. In addition, most universities are requiring students to quarantine to stop the spread of the virus. At Indiana University, three-fourths of Greek Sorority houses on campus were quarantined by administrators and suggested remaining students vacate the dorms to find a new place to live. Some college students are choosing to protest this decision. At the University of Michigan, graduate students formed a three day strike refusing to teach undergraduates over the university’s response to the virus. 

Some universities have decided to switch to online instruction and send students home. By doing this, the spread of the virus will decrease in college communities, but increase in the spread across the country when students return to their hometowns. Local officials from college boards say that they “fear both for students infected and the cities and counties they’re living in.” Dr. John Paschen, the chair of Story County’s Health Board in Iowa, reveals research that “a rise in cases among people forty-five years and older shows the hotspot is spreading from the Iowa State campus.” Students are putting elderly citizens living in close proximity to their college towns at a higher risk. 

Most of these college students are either trying to do the right thing or underestimating the danger of gathering in large groups and ignoring social distancing guidelines. College students are failing to see the extreme risks of catching the virus which results in college towns being a major hotspot for Covid cases and the mass outbreaks in them. This failed precaution adds fuel to the fire of the ongoing pandemic and spread of the virus.