You’re halfway through the fall semester, and you’re finishing it off at home because the school was forced to close. You’ve had a long day of classes, but it’s a Thursday and you’ve received a mass email with a PDF attachment of the latest edition of the Ionian. You dread reading it, but you do anyway. For the first time in the Ionian’s history, there is section dedicated just to obituaries. The first name you see is that of a roommate, a suitemate, a classmate or even your best friend. Your heart sinks.
This is the reality we face if we don’t get it together.
We have been presented with a unique opportunity that could easily be wasted by a small number of students. COVID-19 cases are down in New York state, but that does not mean we should underestimate the potential for a resurgence. In March, New Rochelle was the epicenter of the outbreak in this state, and now we’re back to school, resuming our somewhat normal lives.
I’m not here to pretend to be a parent or an authority figure, but I’m sure most of us are aware of what’s happening to other colleges across the country. Students attending parties on the weekends without wearing masks or social distancing are causing the virus to spread and schools to shut down either briefly or permanently. It is embarrassing, but we’re better than that.
At Iona, we’re all about “Gaels taking care of Gaels,” “Moving the World” and “Fighting the Good Fight.” I don’t think we’ll ever get an opportunity like this again to show the world who we are as a community.
You may think that no one cares, that the situation isn’t that serious or maybe even that we’re really small in the grand scheme of things, but I’m telling you that you’re wrong to think that. I spent the first week of our reopening watching daily broadcasts of reporters on our campus talking to our school mates and showing the world all the protocols we have in place. I had family members calling me to confirm that it was, in fact, my small liberal arts college that they saw on the news.
Don’t let all this work go to waste. Life is unpredictable, and maybe we will have to go back to complete online learning, but don’t let that be the fault of careless students who decided they just couldn’t go without their weekend parties or bar visits.
Lives are at stake. The community surrounding the school is at stake. It’s not fair for so many students to have to make sacrifices to protect their health – and their families’ health – just for it to all be thrown away by students that mistakenly believe Iona is the kind of school that just has to have a party every other weekend. You’ve got the rest of your lives to party and make memories, you can afford to go without it all for a couple more months.
So, this is my request to the Iona College community: don’t make us write your obituaries.