The coronavirus has largely uprooted everyone’s lives — from the elderly all the way to young children. But perhaps the most socially affected have been school-aged children and young adults. Schools across the country are closed for the academic year, leaving students at home and away from peers. Is this how we should be spending the greatest years of our life?
The simple answer is no. COVID-19 is not affecting our age group the same way it affects older people. Since February, the CDC has reported that 315 Americans aged 15-24 have died from the virus. Compared to the 101,325 people over the age of 75 who have died, this number is nominal.
However, college campuses continue to impose strict regulations on what students can and cannot do. In Mississippi, Governor Reeves’s guidelines limit indoor gatherings to ten people and outdoor to a measly twenty. Ole Miss has held itself closely to these standards, causing student groups to give up plans for in-person meetings in favor of virtual involvement. Even sororities and fraternities had to limit recruitment to small groups and virtual rush events. Bid day came and went without music blaring on Sorority Row, mass crowds of active members patiently awaiting new members and large off-campus parties to greet the recruits.
What hinders students even more is the university’s economic response to closures. Tuition and fees for this semester did not change even though most classes are online or hybrid. Student organizations that violate the UM COVID-19 gathering policy may be fined up to $60 a member, and individuals who go against guidelines may be required to pay up to $500. On top of the potential fines and little added value to online experiences, students and recent grads are navigating a disastrous job market that does not show signs of rebounding soon.
All of these strange and awkward social guidelines have not made up for face-to-face interaction. From social gatherings to in-person instruction, students are left wanting more. We want to meet with friends on campus or on the Square. We want a campus full of events and Saturdays in the Grove. We want to see our professors and fellow classmates in person, not hiding behind a computer camera.
The times we are living in are unprecedented, but that does not excuse the damage done to young people all in the name of protecting the “vulnerable.” How are young adults not included in the vulnerable of society? Our livelihoods after college are at stake. The social skills we develop by interacting with people are done away with. The negative effects of massive shutdowns on young people make me question the wisdom and foresight surrounding the current restrictions. This country will suffer greatly from COVID-19, not only because of the lives lost from the disease but because of the burdens placed on young people all in the name of protecting a minority of the population.
Lauren Moses is a senior from Coppell, Texas, studying Economics and Political Science.