Op-ed: If you return to campus, either you’re all in or we’re all out


File photo by Deanna Schwartz

Students returning to campus in the fall will be required to wear face coverings at all times to keep the community safe.

Jacob Kemp, contributor

You’re probably like me.

You’ve spent the last five months or so wasting away in a quarantined purgatory, lamenting your lost summer plans and alternating between Netflix and TikTok, searching for any form of entertainment as the world seems to crumble around you.

You may have lost a loved one, or a job, or a stable living situation. Or maybe the extent of your loss was just much-needed social interaction and the opportunity to hang with friends. 

You may be like me, having not seen a single friend since we were kicked off campus in fear of catching or spreading a deadly disease. Or you may have ignored all the restrictions and saw your friends anyway, convincing yourself that somehow you won’t get it.

Above all, you’re probably excited to return to campus, to a semblance of college life and the opportunity to finally see your friends. I know I am.

But today, in the most good faith possible, I’m asking you to please hear what I’m about to say: Making your return to campus about you won’t work. The only way this will work is if you commit to making your return about all of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m just as excited to be back in Boston, to safely see some friends, to order take-out from Amelia’s or study on Centennial Common. But we have to acknowledge that the world is not the same as it was in March, that the United States has more reported daily cases than it did when we left campus. The plans Northeastern created won’t be effective unless each of us approaches this opportunity with personal responsibility and a realistic mindset.

We truly only have one chance to make this work. Luckily, we know more about this virus than we did when we left.

We know what we have to do. We must wear masks in every indoor space, every hallway, every elevator and every crowded sidewalk. We must tighten our social circles. We must only see our friends from a safe distance, or outside, or with masks, and preferably all of the above. We must fill out our daily wellness surveys, get our weekly tests and follow all of Northeastern’s restrictions. We know these are the best measures an individual can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Above all, we can’t party. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds parties the absolute highest risk gathering for spreading the virus. That is how this ends for all of us.

And I’m scared because I can’t make you do it. I can only ask that you think of your responsibility not only to yourself, but to our friends, our professors, our university staff and contract workers, our immunocompromised Huskies, our fellow students who may need to be on campus because of toxic or dangerous home lives, our neighbors who are scared about students returning and our Boston community.

We only have one shot. If you’re all in on these restrictions, maybe we can make this work. If you just don’t try, we could all be kicked out. 

I’d prefer the former. What about you?

Jacob Kemp is a second-year political science major. He can be reached at [email protected].