Student partying during COVID-19: To snitch or not to snitch

Your typical university student may argue that drinking and partying are part of university life. However, with the current international presence of COVID-19 and the high possibility of a second wave, students are strongly divided and mixed on their views towards partying. A person’s decisions lie in whether or not to go to a university party, and/or whether to alert authorities of a party violating COVID-19 mandates.

Since the Canadian and Ontario governments issued stricter regulations to combat COVID-19 (i.e. mandatory face-coverings worn in indoor public venues), we have seen a decrease in infection rates. However, groups of young adults have taken this as a sign to resume their typical socialization behaviours, like house parties. 

Right now, partying is not responsible. While youth may claim their right to freedom of mobility and choice, partying can be interpreted as an insult to your community and its residences, businesses, healthcare workers, government and even neighbouring communities. 

While Canada’s situation with COVID-19 is very different from its neighbour, the United States,, we can see several instances where pandemic partying has gotten out of control. 

College students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama have been throwing ”COVID parties” in which they invite people infected with the virus and gamble on who tests positive for COVID-19 first. US state municipalities are also struggling to hold individuals accountable for their actions, issuing several subpoenas and daily fines for non-compliance to those who attended these parties. 

While these extremes may never reach Canadians, it is the possibility of such extremes that should make us continue to heed caution to the virus. 

Even though physical distancing regulations have been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, “super-spreader” parties popped up throughout the summer. In July, a Brampton residence hosted a birthday party attracting over 200 people while still in Stage 2. 

Another example, closer to home for Laurier students, happened in late June when London party-goers tested positive for COVID-19 and began attending other parties in the Hamilton and Waterloo regions. Also, more recently, young people hosted a mass party on Granville Street, British Columbia. Even though police dispersed the partiers at midnight, time-stamped Instagram stories show the party back atfull speed  at 2 a.m. the same night.

The freedom of newfound adulthood can be refreshing, but also comes at the expense of lacking life experience. Young people can sometimes believe they’re invincible. Regardless of one’s immune system, the elixir of youth invincibility has not proven much during COVID-19. There are still a fair number of young people who get severely ill and have a long recovery process, not to mention all the other demographics of people someone is infecting. 

The easiest solution is to abide by government mandates andWHO recommendations, and not host or attend parties. However, after being back in Waterloo for only one week, I have seen and heard countless parties and gatherings that aren’t respecting physical distancing or face-covering bylaws. 

This is comparable to another student social experience: sex. Practicing safe sex is not “fun” for all, but it is fun because you don’t have to worry about unexpected consequences! What you do behind closed doors is your business, but when contracting a disease (COVID-19 or an STI), you are expected to be open with the people you are coming in close contact with to ensure their safety.

While there has been a push from students in favour of partying and those not in favour, you might be caught in the middle. With the pressures and anxieties of coming of age, you want to make relationships with others and have experiences, but also discover yourself. 

With every conflict, it comes down to a group or an individual making a difficult decision, and, in this case, that involves being a whistleblower. Upon witnessing a party that violates COVID-19 mandates, you’re faced with a decision: to snitch or not to snitch?

Some students say it isn’t their business to shut down a party they didn’t attend, while others say that instead of snitching, they just won’t associate with that group; but, do these methods stop an infectious virus from spreading? 

Students at Cornell University called the police on their peers having a pandemic party, which led to serious consequences. Cornell students petitioned that students who are seen not physical distancing should have their admission to Cornell revoked. While Cornell is attempting to resume in-person classes, these types of reprimands would not be unheard of for a Canadian university, particularly since Canadian provinces have COVID-19 bylaws in effect. 

Ultimately, you can call this article bogus and walk away unchanged. However, when you decide to host or attend a party that violates COVID-19 regulations, you’re risking the health of others and contributing to the spread of COVID-19. 

While the Ontario government has said indoor gatherings now have a cap at 50 people, there is a difference between 50 people at a funeral mourning a loved one and 50 people at a house party consuming copious amounts of alcohol and sometimes drugs. 

We cannot defeat this virus single-handedly, so please rethink your decisions to party and gather during a pandemic.

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