Many Alfred University partygoers are taking precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Although there’s still apparent partying, most students are avoiding the scene altogether or changing the way they meet to make it COVID-19 conscious. Students guess that the party scene is operating at less than half of its usual capacity.
“I just don’t want the school to get shut down from partying,” says an AU student that wished to remain anonymous when interviewed. He was a regular partygoer in past years and now helps plan parties that take into account precautions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. He and his roommates don’t want to see AU move online, and they especially don’t want the social backlash they would face if one of their parties turned Alfred into a hotspot. “That’ll just be something on your back. Like, pinned to your back like a target.” He worries that being the reason for a school closure would ruin his image and the image of any groups he’s a part of.
These gatherings, which are a ghost of last year’s parties, include rigid no-cup-sharing policies, social distancing, encouraged outdoor activity and limited invitation. They gravitate towards games that can be played while social distancing, like the ever-popular beer pong.
Most students have reduced their partying even further. “I’m not going to parties because I understand how real Covid is, and I think it’d be foolish to go to a gathering with ten people or more,” says another AU student who also wished to remain anonymous. She’s enjoyed Alfred’s party scene in the past, but now tries her best to avoid it. She recently joined a group of seven for dinner, but the lack of COVID-19 precautions made her uncomfortable.
She also described a nearby house where she’s observed partying the past few weekends. Although she has friends at that house, she and her roommates reported them to Public Safety. After five calls, she says no one showed up to look into the partying. “It takes a lot of will to snitch on people that you know. But you know it’s the right thing because there’s a pandemic and that’s not okay.”
Ninety percent of the student population has tested negative for COVID-19, but on Sept. 25, a single student visited the Wellness Center, later testing positive. It is still unknown how this student contracted the virus or who they’ve been in contact with.
President Zupan remains optimistic that AU will prevail through the semester and hopes that students will be attentive to his “Protect the Lux” campaign to avoid spread of the coronavirus.
“While I’m cautiously optimistic that we will continue to remain open and offer in-person classes through the rest of this term we cannot take anything for granted.”
By Dale Mott Slater