Beware: This year’s nightmare is not a ghost

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

You walk into the room and are instantly met by the warmth and distinct smell of alcohol mixed with sweat. Your friends get pulled in three different directions, each of them brushing on complete strangers. 

As you try to get to them, a random man offers you a drink that you just watched him drink out of not five seconds earlier. You’re skeptical at first but after a scan of the room, you see everyone is sharing drinks.

Someone compliments your costume, and it dawns on you. While many in the room are dressed up, none are wearing masks. You hear a distant cough before it’s drowned out by loud music and obnoxious singing. After a few more drinks, you dance the night away with your friends.

A few days later, your friend complains of a sore throat and fever. Later on, you feel under the weather. You tell yourself not to worry. Then, your friend says she has tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, all your friends and several other partygoers have. So, you get tested. Can you guess what the results say?

I’m positive you can.

With only a few days to go until “Halloweekend,” one of the biggest partying weekends on college campuses nationwide, the worry that sits in my heart is unbearable. Mixing socially starved freshmen with those still yearning for a sense of normalcy is a dangerous combination.

I have sympathy for freshman students as their hopes of experiencing a normal first year are running thin. I understand it’s disappointing having a virtual semester, but your need to socialize and party does not trump public safety. 

Going out to parties simply because it’s the weekend after Halloween is not an excuse. 

I found it inappropriate for Christians to congregate in church on Easter and for Muslims to pray in a mosque on Eid, so I certainly don’t encourage celebrating a weekend meant for playing dress-up and getting belligerent.

I don’t know how many more languages I have to say it in. What else can I do to wake you all up and get you to comprehend the gravity of this pandemic?

I’m not trying to rain on your parade or cut the party short. I’m trying to tell you there should be no parade or party until this pandemic is over. Believe it or not, if we all manage to follow the guidelines set by healthcare officials, we might be able to outlive this aggressive virus.

I’ve never been to a haunted house. I’ve managed to avoid going to one for 20 years now, saving myself from the inevitable fear and heartache I know they cause. 

I’m not a fan of Halloween, and I have always seen haunted houses as the scariest part of the season. But this year, they aren’t my biggest fear — the spread of COVID-19 is.

It is completely absurd to convince ourselves that partying and gathering in large groups is going to help in pushing this pandemic away. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your experience or your desires. It is about the safety of your loved ones, this country and the world.

I’m a woman of equality so I won’t place all the blame on freshmen. As a junior, I’m well aware that upperclassmen are still hosting parties off-campus. If you all weren’t hosting these parties, freshmen — who mostly live in on-campus dorms — wouldn’t have anywhere to go, and therefore, nowhere to spread the virus.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the last few semesters of my college experience to be full of the same social interaction I had my previous two years. I would love to have all my friends over for a celebration. I miss being able to walk on campus and smile at random strangers. I wish I could hug everyone in my life again. 

Yet, I will continue to long patiently because I know these sacrifices will result in my safety. 

You can still celebrate the spooky season safely. I’ve compiled a list of socially distant, coronavirus-friendly activities:

  • Go to a pumpkin patch with friends.

  • Host a Zoom costume contest and mail the winner a prize.

  • Bake a spooky Halloween treat.

  • Binge-watch your favorite scary movies.

The pandemic has taken enough of our lives. For your own sake, and the sake of others, beware of parties.

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