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Check yourself before you wreck yourself — and a bunch of others

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Who’s to blame?

Miami University students are back in Oxford, and with their arrival has come the same behavior we’ve seen every fall when students return.

But this isn’t a normal fall, and with the decision to resume in-person learning up in the air, you’d think students would think twice before downing a vodka red bull and going party hopping for the night. Some are. Some, however, are not.

The city of Oxford has upped the consequences — a $500 fine for first offenses — for those caught hosting gatherings of more than 10 people

But the university administration had five months to come up with a plan for handling the inevitable Miami student behavior that’s unfolded the past two weeks, and there aren’t many repercussions to show for it.

There should be.

As of Aug. 26, 125 students and three employees had tested positive.

So, is the university just looking for someone to blame for the inevitable spike in COVID-19 cases, which will lead to a full semester of online learning? If so, does that make the university the bad guy? Or is it the students, who are not only taking the opportunity to fall on Miami’s sword, but running with it?

Here’s the deal:

Miami University is not our dad. We love it. Sometimes it gets us in trouble when we do things it asked us not to, but at the end of the day, we appreciate all it does for us. 

But it’s not our dad – it’s a business. And when it acts like one by letting us know we’re going to be online just after those tuition checks clear or seeks others to blame for its mistakes, we can’t be surprised.

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However, when students lack the empathy or understanding of the consequences of their actions, we are more than within the realm of sanity to be surprised and upset.

We all know that being back with our friends in a 10-block radius is exciting, but we have to stay grounded here. 

We’re still in a global health crisis, and going around to a few house parties every night is damaging to the community – our community.

The amount of people in Oxford might make you think your individual actions can only go so far. For instance, what’s the harm in going out if everyone you live with is already doing that?

But your individual decisions do matter.

It’s not just us at risk here. Oxford is a community of its own year-round, and though most students aren’t considered high-risk, the same can’t be said for the whole town. 

Even if it takes tough conversations with your housemates or close friends, you can help them see the big picture. 

Hearing a close friend tell you they don’t want to come around you or your home because they think you’re a risk to their health or the health of others could be the dose of reality you need to remember what we’ve gone through since March.

People have buried loved ones, lost jobs or internships, and don’t forget that young people have still died from this virus. 

We can’t get bored of coronavirus. That won’t make it go away.

What we can do is hold ourselves and those around us accountable. 

Tell your friends you’re afraid to be around them if they’ve been going out. Let your housemates know you’re uncomfortable with the exposure risk they’re bringing into your home. Get people in trouble if they won’t listen to you. Miami has resources for reporting both on- and off-campus violations of COVID-19 safety rules, which you can find here. Some people respond only to consequences. 

And in terms of what can the university do to help: advertise the anonymous tip-line for students to call in their concerns of parties. Get the campus police more involved in these issues. If you can do it for hazing, you can do it for this. Threaten students with consequences.

Above all, we just need to see more empathy. 

We’re all in this together, whether we want to be or not. Noticing and caring about the people around you is more crucial now than ever. You have an individual choice to be a part of the problem or the solution. 

Be willing to put your social life and comfort on hold so we — and all the underclassmen patiently waiting at home — can have the normal college experience back as soon as possible.

And don’t give Miami the chance to blame us.

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