Keep staying inside to save lives

Ishan Shah

I know you’re tired. In the past month, the coronavirus has turned our lives upside down. From postponed commencement to financial insecurity to sick family members, the impacts of the virus has affected each and every UT student.

On top of that, the usual avenues of stress relief, such as meeting with friends and going to parties, have become nonexistent because of social distancing.

However, social distancing has already been effective as the growth of new cases has gone from exponential to linear. For the country to fully reopen and for UT to offer in-person classes in the future, it is imperative that all of us continue to avoid social gatherings.

Dennis Andrulis, associate professor of management, policy and community health, said even though staying at home can be exhausting, this is ultimately the step we have to take to overcome the pandemic.

“Without knowing it, this invisible threat can lead you to infect your friends, family, loved ones — even the pizza delivery guy,” Andrulis said.

Most students want to see their friends again. The switch from in-person to online learning was abrupt, and many students have been left without closure as it’s unclear when we will be returning to campus. Graduating seniors have no idea when they’ll get to see their friends, if ever.

These are also highly unprecedented times. None of us know how to feel about this situation because it’s one of a kind, leaving us with a mixture of emotions. I didn’t know what to feel when I revisited campus to move out of my room. Looking at the desolate walkways that were once crowded with students made me feel like I had no control over anything.

But just because you feel stripped of power does not give you the right to take matters into your own hands and potentially endanger the lives of others. It doesn’t give you the right to go to Mexico with your friends and justify those types of activities with, “If I get Corona, I get Corona.” It doesn’t give you the right to crowd parks because you’re bored of sitting at home. It doesn’t give you the right to take a dip at Barton Springs because the weather’s nice.

In a situation where lives are at stake, every action has exponential results. Viruses spread quickly as they infect new hosts, making it crucial to avoid coming into contact with other people.

Luckily, you can channel all of this time into doing something other than hanging out. Take the opportunity to start the blog you’ve been meaning to write. Maybe find ways to help out in your community by organizing donation drives. Even dusting off an old Monopoly set can make for a heated, yet entertaining board game night. 

It’s also important to note that mental health is extremely important in challenging times like these. It’s OK to mourn, be sad and have days when you don’t want to do anything. Our situation is difficult, but the restrictions we have in place are meant to ensure our safety and protect lives.

The UT student community is strong, and this pandemic will end if we all do our part for each other's health. If all of us take personal responsibility and keep ourselves safe by practicing social distancing, the end to this chaos may come much sooner.

Shah is an electrical and computer engineering freshman from Plano, Texas.