Partying persists despite Alfred University’s attempts to keep classes in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. The alternative perspective believes that being unable to party is “not necessarily healthy” for mental wellbeing.
Last weekend AU’s President Zupan and Alfred State’s President Sullivan strolled through town checking out the party scene. Long before the sun set on Friday night student-rented houses began to bump with blaring music, streets bustled with hollers and cheers, and games of beer pong were set up in yards. The following Monday, Alfred sidewalks were littered with trampled masks and crushed beer cans. When worrying about campus closure, off-campus partying is President Zupan’s biggest concern.
A community member (who wishes to remain anonymous) reportedly attending gatherings in Alfred claimed that partygoers “think they’re untouchable.” The individual also guessed that partiers aren’t considering the potential consequences of their actions but are focusing only on their desires to let loose. Being unable to socialize and release the stresses of school under restrictive pandemic mandates worried the citizen, who further claimed that for many students partying is like a lifeline in the stressful and otherwise uneventful college life of Alfred.
AU began testing students for Covid-19 last week. In the two batches of students tested (totaling about 260) all results were negative. Because partying happens largely in off-campus homes, students living off-campus are being tested first. State-wide metrics from New York State’s Department of Health released August 28th ruled that if a college has 100 or more active cases of Covid-19 within a 14-day period or if there’s a positive test rate of 5% or higher all students and staff must go on a two-week quarantine. However, students will be sent home if there isn’t enough space within the area to properly quarantine everyone.
This was the case at SUNY Oneonta when over 300 cases of the virus were found at the college within the first two weeks of the semester. The spike in positive cases was attributed to a series of large parties (particularly in fraternities and sororities) and close contact in library spaces. As of Sept. 7, all of their on-campus students should be moved out of their dorms and classes transitioned online for the remainder of the fall semester.
Members from across the community have been coming together in meetings led by Mayor Becky Prophet to ensure students are staying safe. Because President Sullivan was unable to comment, Zupan recounted that Sullivan is “bringing down the hammer” on students that do not follow safety precautions, warning party-goers at the Hockey House that if he finds them partying again he will bypass the school’s judicial process and send them home.
President Zupan says he isn’t afraid to take the same actions but is focusing his resources on educating the student body. “You can’t communicate enough and from enough different angles.” From roving ambassadors to a tip line, Zupan hopes he can convince students to sacrifice their raging weekend plans for the greater good of the university and the many people it supports.
By Dale Mott Slater