Undaunted by COVID-19, Students Return to Campus Life and Crowded Parties

Credit: Felicity Yick

After more than a year of pandemic-induced closures, freshmen are excited to navigate a seemingly normal campus environment buzzing with parties and in-person classes.

First four years, who requested anonymity due to possible repercussions, told the Daily Pennsylvanian about their largely positive experiences orienting new students during a new wave of the pandemic. Fearlessly, students are largely unmasked on the outside, and many attend major Greek life parties and other social events on campus.

While some believe contracting COVID-19 is inevitable on a full campus, students said they were not worried about experiencing adverse symptoms from the virus due to Penn’s vaccination requirement for students, faculty and others. the staff. More than 99.99% of people who are fully vaccinated have had no cases that resulted in hospitalization or death, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An international freshman said that while he and his friends will continue to wear masks when necessary and follow other safety precautions, they believe they will inevitably contract the virus this semester due to the large number of people back on campus. However, they do not worry about serious consequences such as hospitalization or death from vaccines.

“We all know Penn has the vaccine mandate, so pretty much everyone you see has been vaccinated. But nobody wears masks or anything, ”Wharton freshman said.

A freshman in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences agreed, saying they were not concerned about COVID-19, although they did not see any students wearing masks on the holidays of life that they had attended during NSO, which took place from August 25. to August 30.

“I knew all my friends were vaccinated – everyone I spoke to was. We didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t vaccinated, even with other ONS events, ”said the first year of engineering.

Last year, the Penn’s Student Campus Compact required students to agree to “assemble only in designated outdoor and indoor areas of campus, wearing face coverings and maintaining adequate physical distance.” Off-campus Greek life parties were held nonetheless, prompting Senior Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs Tamara Greenfield King to warn Greek life leaders to stop the events in person, after a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases has been linked to fraternities.

The Student Campus Compact is not currently in effect, although students are now required to wear masks indoors. Penn’s current positivity rate is 0.84% ​​for the week of August 22-28. On other campuses, including Duke University, cases of COVID-19 have increased despite high vaccination rates among their students.

King wrote in an emailed statement to the DP on August 26 that “[Office of Fraternity/Sorority Life] groups are held at the same level as other student groups’ this semester. “We follow all [COVID-19] advice provided by Penn, ”King wrote in an email on Sept. 1.

In an email sent to the Penn community on August 25, Penn administrators wrote that “special events and large gatherings are highly recommended to be held outdoors and with precautions in place.” Masks or social distancing measures are not required outdoors.

A Wharton freshman and college freshman said all the parties they attended were filled to near capacity, with students crammed into high-density fraternity basements, drinking and dancing. Wharton’s freshman described all parties as having “LED lights, big bass and way too much body.” ”

“Among the parties I attended, unless it was a small group of people I already knew, [they] just tend to get wrapped up. And considering the summer heat and the fact that a lot of them are indoors to avoid detection or whatever, it ends up getting really sweaty and nasty, ”the college freshman said.

Wharton’s freshman also said most parties were held indoors and in fraternity basements in order to avoid being shut down by Penn Police. A first year of engineering agreed, alleging that a party they attended was closed by Penn Police because it was too crowded. Of the four parties Wharton’s freshman attended during the NSO, they said two of them were closed by Penn Police.

The early years of College and Wharton said the majority of the early years they encountered on campus at least tried to go to a party, and added that the isolation of the early years experienced during the pandemic has contributed to the prevalence of the holiday this year.

“People [have been] go out just because the last year and a half has been pretty lonely, and I really hear from a lot of people that they just go to parties for the experience and because they hear it’s the right thing to do. So I guess there’s a lot of social pressure to do, ”Wharton freshman said.

Parties are also a way for early years and sophomores to bond with upper class students, the college freshman said.

“It’s actually amazing to find people who share my interests and who I just fell into, maybe making a joke, and all of a sudden we’re just talking about our majors. And I get advice on things I never thought I would do at a fellowship night, ”they said.

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