After months of social starvation, it is understandable that 35,000 students felt the need to feast when they came back to school. Upon returning to campus, it is next to impossible to stay away from friends and all the memories students hoped to make throughout their college experience. Students were faced with a polarizing decision: uphold their social responsibility and miss hanging out with their friends or risk getting sick to see the people they’ve missed for months. The rising number of COVID-19 cases on campus proves the temptation was too great.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when the University of South Carolina sent students home and many states imposed stay-at-home orders, the Centers for Disease Control noted an increase in the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. They also found that people were reporting irregular sleep and eating patterns, along with a decrease in motivation. All these negative effects were seen as a result of taking away social interactions and physical contact.
Anyone who tells you there is no partying going on at the University of South Carolina is lying. Masks haven’t become a fashion statement and at off-campus apartments, students are meeting in groups of 10 or more fairly often. Social responsibility might not be fulfilled, but students are still prevailing to make memories with their friends.
A sophomore described, “I feel like it is important to maintain my social life to reduce stress and anxiety and escape from school. If I did not spend any time with my friends, I’d have a hard time separating myself from school work and it is hard for me to relax.”
However, having a social life during a pandemic does have its consequences. A junior who was diagnosed with COVID-19 after partying in off-campus apartments said, “I see it as I was able to enjoy my life the way I wanted. I believe people should have a choice whether to go out to parties or wear masks…. But by all means just like with every other sickness such as the flu or cold [if you get diagnosed] stay home!”
Some students are holding themselves strictly to the university’s social distancing precautions. Kayla Schoff, a second year nursing major, said she abides by social distancing standards “Because I don’t want to unknowingly spread COVID to anyone, and I want to do my part in slowing the spread of the disease.”