A student at an Ivy League university just wrote to me:
I’m a senior college student at [X] and back in March when we shut down, I was genuinely concerned about COVID.
However, I study hospitality and as I read about layoffs at restaurants and hotels, my heart broke for the staff there. By May, I was fully skeptical. At first, I thought we’d be done with this by now. Back home in NY, my high school friends are terrified and the one time we saw each other, we sat in my backyard 6+ ft apart from each other. As a business student, I hope that I understand how the markets work and how every single week of lockdown affects our society in every shape and form.
Where I live, we are a wealthy town and most parents are businessmen/lawyers and can afford to stay home. However, having worked in the hospitality industry, I understand how so many people are being affected while families in my community are ordering for $100+ delivery and $200+ Instacart orders. They’re so phony — they think that the federal government could snap their fingers for small businesses and its employees and they’ll be saved. Whether it’s Trump or Biden, these people are not being helped.
One interesting anecdote: my friend’s sister has really, really bad eyesight. Both of her parents are doctors and she’s still scared to go get her eyes checked. When I was with her, I had to read her the menu from her phone when we were ordering in. She’s 22 years old. 22!
Trust me, I know I’m privileged but was disgusted by the lack of empathy. I worked in restaurants and hotels and I know that these workers are suffering. Meanwhile, my high school friends think that the federal government will help them. They don’t understand how it works. They keep thinking that we’re going to have a vaccine or treatments by next year. I tried to explain that the US population is over 300 million across the country and that you can’t vaccinate everyone overnight. Somehow all my friends go to Ivy League schools and they don’t understand that logic. And trust me, my major at [X] is known to be the “dumb” major and compared to the engineers, they have no clue.
Now, for some good news. I’m now back at [X] University. Some challenges is having to wear masks everywhere and having twice weekly tests. Aside from that, it’s almost like being back in college. I’ve hosted parties with my best friends hosting pong, getting drunk, and being a college student. The first few days back, my friends and I were a bit scared to hug and all. Since then, we’ve had so many great social events. We even played spin the bottle and had such great experiences. While when I meet another friend that I haven’t seen for a while, we don’t hug or do anything… Soon after, after a drink or two, we’ve all hugged. I talked to my friends about COVID and we’re all under the impression that by March 2021, somehow life has to go on.
Lastly, I do not understand this conversation about waiting until a vaccine or treatment. How long can we go on? Luckily, I’m a senior and will have had most of my college years. But how will education be affected? When I was in high school, I worked with students on the spectrum and with autism; I can’t imagine what they are living.
Now much of this is quite discouraging: the 22-year-old woman who’s terrified to get her eyes checked, even though she quite literally has a greater chance of dying in a car accident on the way to the eye exam than she does of COVID, is beyond ridiculous.
At the same time, I’m glad to hear that when push comes to shove, college students are being college students, regardless of the hysteria, and that they seem to have decided on a date in their minds beyond which the insanity simply cannot go on.