How do you keep college students from partying?

The+fall+semester+brings+a+stop+to+beer+pong+with+friends

Bella Pacinelli

The fall semester brings a stop to beer pong with friends

Bella Pacinelli, FEATURES EDITOR

Coronavirus has been an ever-present threat in the United States for the past five months. 

Throughout this time, people have been told to social distance and wear masks when in public spaces. 

However, with college students returning back to campus it is unknown whether or not they will adhere to these guidelines. 

Universities in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina, to name a few, have struggled to keep their students from regular activities such as partying. 

It is no surprise that a summer of isolation could lead to the strong desire for normalcy — this goes for the students of Ashland University as well. 

Although AU is considered to be a smaller university, the danger of partying amidst a global pandemic does not discriminate. 

Ashland’s administration has taken steps to ensure the safety of all who walk its campus, but it really relies on the choices of the student body, President Campo said. 

“We believe that if students want to stay on campus it’s up to them more than anyone else to make this happen,” he said. 

The University has created the Student Gatherings Policy as a way to guide students in the direction of safe practice. 

Just released from the AU administration, these policies involve consequences to high-risk gatherings in groups of more than 10 people. 

All students are required to sign the ‘Stronger Together, Safer Together’ pledge form which deals with the education, mitigation, and response to COVID-19. 

If by chance anyone breaks the pledge, regardless of signing it, there are sanctions and potential suspensions that await these students, Campo said. 

“You know Ashland, policy and practice, we put a lot of trust in our students to do the right things,” he said. “But we also know that students are students and make mistakes like anyone.” 

These sanctions will act as a tiered punishment and will be decided upon a case-by-case basis. 

Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Robert Pool, is the person most responsible for determining an appropriate consequence, Campo said. 

Nonetheless, there will be a student-led panel that also reviews the terms of the situation at hand. 

The Student Gatherings Policy will be upheld even off-campus, Campo said. 

“We are reaching out to bars and restaurants so that if students are engaged in behavior that is unsafe, we’ve asked them to contact us directly to let us know,” he said.

Local bars and restaurants have been contacted by the university to report any unsafe behavior among students. (Bella Pacinelli )

With many community members stressing concern to Campo over the arrival of students, he has made it clear that they too should report any dangerous activity. 

“We’ve said we’re almost like in a neighborhood watch environment, he said. “We’ve said to people, in the same way we would in other regards, if you see something, say something,”

The Ashland Times-Gazette recently published a letter from Campo to the community entitled, ‘Ashland president: Please do your part to make this fall semester a success.’ 

In the event of campus security being unable to handle certain affairs, Ashland police may get involved. 

“Our overall philosophy is we would rather get a broader group involved and ensure that the behavior is not unlawful or breaks protocol,” Campo said. 

While some might say the punishments set in place are too harsh, the University is focused on taking this high-stakes issue seriously. 

“From our perspective, if there are 20 kids in a backyard, even if they aren’t drinking, if they have no masks on and they’re in close contact for more than 15 minutes, they’re putting everyone in that group at risk and then of course, our campus,” he said. 

Campo is also relying on students to do some peer policing when it is needed. 

“We do think that it’s important for students to do as they would in other circumstances,” he said. “To stand up and say, ‘I’m sorry but you’ve got to put a mask on or you’ve got to stand back.’” 

With a mutual agreement to adhere to Ashland’s policy, comes a respect for others. 

If students are made to leave campus and return to full virtual learning, the career goals of some could be hindered. 

This is the case for senior nursing major, Abby Lampe, who must attend clinicals and labs in-person in order to graduate on time. 

“I’m not letting someone put my college education at risk just because they want to get drunk on a Tuesday,” Lampe said.

Her biggest concern with resuming life on campus is that typically, college-aged students don’t see coronavirus as a threat. 

“A lot of 20-year-olds have this immunity complex that we can’t die,” she said. “It might not kill you, but if you get sick and give it to your mom who has arthritis, it’s going to be hard on her, but people don’t realize that and they don’t care and that’s the problem.” 

Lampe believes that certain students can keep from partying, but not everyone. 

“We’ve been here for a week and have already seen people gathering in groups that are too big and participating in things that they shouldn’t be.”

These outliers, as Lampe called them, are not taking things seriously enough. 

“I think right now it’s just more or less students, not just at Ashland but at all universities, need to realize that the changes are here to protect you,” she said. 

Although it is her senior year, Lampe is accepting of the fact that it is going to be different than all of the others. 

While her party scene might be changing drastically, she knows that there are safer ways to have a good time. 

“I don’t think that the rules being there should limit you and you should hermit yourself in your apartment,” Lampe said. “My four friends and I hung out the other night, all of us 21 and drinking, and had fun just staying in.” 

For those who partake in unsafe behavior during this time, Lampe thinks there should be consequences. 

With friends at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, she has seen the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — arresting and fining students for partying. 

“While I don’t think Ashland needs to go arresting people, I think that they need to enforce it,” Lampe said, “There needs to be something done to drive it into people’s heads that this is not safe and you’re not being smart.” 

Lampe is focused on the big picture throughout the rest of her time at AU and encourages her peers to do the same.

“You’re not going to be upset because you didn’t do that one bar crawl,” she said. “You’re going to look back at all the other times that you had fun with your friends, even if it was just hanging out and doing homework.”

Driven by the excitement of starting her career, Lampe plans to make memories celebrating the final steps of senior year while being responsible with the danger of COVID-19. 

This semester encompasses many changes that may feel unbelievable at times. 

However, each student is being given the opportunity to grow as individuals and make decisions that are in their best interest, Campo said. 

Empty tables and chairs at Riley’s Nightclub on a Friday night. (Bella Pacinelli)

“We know students don’t come here for a virtual experience, they come for the face-to-face experience,” he said. “If we can all do it together and stay healthy, we’ll get through it.”