Parties, lecture halls, and dorm hangouts are just some of the things that make university memorable. However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak at Western University, this has changed for many. Campus life has come to a grinding halt as students have been asked to minimize socializing, classes have been moved online, and activities have been cancelled.
As of Friday, September 18, the school's outbreak had risen to 39 confirmed cases.
"I've been avoiding campus as much as possible," Western student Nicole Devos told Narcity.
She went on to say that orientation leaders and first-year kids have been "congregating in large groups and not respecting [social distancing]."
Devos also said that Western's communication has differed from her own experiences.
"Western has posted about how great the orientation leaders have been about following COVID-19 policies, so there seems to be a disconnect from reality between the administration and the students there."
Despite this, dorm residents were allowed to move in as of September 3. Orientation leaders moved in on August 29.
However, students are required to "acknowledge" a document that outlines these protocols before returning to campus.
Those in residence must also sign a contract that states parties are prohibited and could lead to punishment.
Apparently, however, that hasn't deterred some from partying anyway.
“I have certainly heard of packed patios and houses,” Patrick Ellis, a pre-med student at Western told Narcity.
“I think that those in first year or those who simply do not care about spreading the virus are not doing a very good job with mask compliance and social distancing,” he continued.
The few partiers have caused a ripple larger than themselves, severely limiting actions for everyone at the school.
“Before the pandemic, our class enjoyed big get-togethers,” Western student Wilson Macdonald explained.
“Since being back this year, things have been different obviously. While we can still see some friends, it is in much smaller groups.”
Macdonald admitted that he doesn't think recreational sports will be making a return in the 2020-21 year, as it would be too hard to control safely.
“It’s the little things, like studying with my friends [that] I’m really going to miss,” lamented Devos.
“I also don’t enjoy being stuck at home all day. I try to either work out or leave the house once a day so I don’t go stir-crazy.”
Western University President Alan Shepard addressed students on September 17, begging them not to gather in large groups or attend house parties.
He also asked them to limit socializing to roommates and significant others.
“Now is not the time to take risks with your health and the health of others around you who may be more vulnerable to this illness than you," he said.
"Please follow the rules so that we can continue the school year together."
*This article has been updated.