As of fall 2020, the University of Arizona had 46,932 enrolled students. Many of these students are only attending online classes due to the pandemic; however, many of these students have also abused the circumstances of these online classes. Students have gone on vacation, thrown parties, gone to bars, etc. These people simply do not care about the pandemic or the safety of others. The behavior is selfish and demonstrates that they do not understand what is going on. But what really doesn’t make sense to me are the students on campus who caption their posts “#maskup” or something similar and then go out and do the exact opposite.
It is great to encourage people to follow social distancing and masking guidelines. The problem is that many of these people do not practice what they preach. I have seen plenty of posted photos of large groups at birthday parties, raves and bars often without a mask and never social distancing. This is because people are not properly educated. They believe just because they wear a mask, it means that they are safe even when they are in a large, crowded space. Although a mask helps, it does not prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Many of these people do not even go through the proper techniques to put on and take off a mask safely.
There is also an assumption that just because you are outside at events like large group picnics, outdoor weddings and raves, COVID-19 doesn’t spread. All these activities are outside, and the great ventilation definitely helps with avoiding infection with the virus. The thing is, none of that matters if people are not social distancing or wearing masks.
Many students and people in general have the false belief that one guideline can be used in lieu of another. For example, “if we wear masks, we don’t have to social distance.” However, it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try and follow all the guidelines if possible to protect yourself and others from the virus. A mask is not the ultimate shield to protect you from a virus that can be spread when you lower your mask to take a drink at a bar while shoulder to shoulder with 10 other people.
I do not believe that people who preach to mask up online are being hypocrites on purpose. I genuinely believe they do not even realize what they are doing wrong, but their behavior must be called out. It is ridiculous that we have been in this pandemic for about a year now and people have still not figured out how to keep themselves and others safe. People shouldn't be going out to bars, parties and concerts. There is still no safe way to go about these things. Staying at home whenever you can is the best way to keep you and your family safe. That is the whole reason the University of Arizona has kept classes online — to avoid meeting up in person and spreading the virus. However, people still go out, meet up in person and spread COVID-19 without realizing it.
If you do decide to go out and do an activity with friends, it is best to research ways to stay safe and safe activities you can do while social distancing. The CDC even has tips on how to go about some activities and small gatherings in a safe manner that include both masking and social distancing. Everyone should limit the amount of people they are in contact with, remember that masks aren’t a guarantee of safety and consider that actions during a pandemic affect all of us.
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Andrea (she/her) is a freshman law major. She likes to listen to audio books and game in her free time.