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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

A plea to my peers

It’s not about us. If you’re like me, you opened up Fr. Jenkins’ email Wednesday with a bit of dread even if you knew what was coming. On the basis of CDC recommendations and following the footsteps of other universities around the country, Notre Dame was to be online for the duration of the semester — devastating news for us all. Before I continue, my heart goes out to the seniors who will forever have lost their final weeks of memories. No matter how you’re sent off, I am sure you’ll make us all proud. This announcement, and the other state and federally mandated directions, will undoubtedly lead to disruption of our typical lives. How that disruption manifests is up to us. Scrolling through social media in the past 72 hours, I have seen a whole spectrum of responses: fear, anxiety and ignorance. There are those that are excited to have time with family, those that went on their spring break regardless of best instincts and those that are unsure if they can even return home at all. What I ask of each of you today, is to know that however these next eight weeks turn out, it’s not about us. We, the majority of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students, in addition to college students and millennials all around the U.S. are young, healthy and enter each room with a strong immune system. Yet, each of us are surrounded by those who do not. I think of my grandparents and elderly family, of my recently born nephew, of those community members in my hometown of Middleton, Wis., especially fearful due to being immunocompromised. Each of their livelihoods are directly impacted by the decisions that the majority — the herd — makes concerning social distancing and quarantining. As you check your phone tonight, fielding GroupMe and Snapchat messages persuading you to hit the town with your high school buddies, I urge you to think of your community members who are too scared to leave their homes right now. Even though early data from Italy and China suggested those under 55 were nearly immune, recent reports from France, Spain and New York are demonstrating the risk to those between the ages of 20-55. Still, just because we are at a lower risk of contracting COVID-19, doesn’t mean we can’t pass it on to others. Enjoy your time off, take advantage of some moments unplugged from the world, and remember to make each decision like the health of your grandma — or mine — depends on it. Social distancing works, but it takes a societal commitment to do what’s best for the whole, rather than what’s most fun for the few. If you’re interested in more information so that you can keep yourself and those around you informed, I urge you to look into the latest CDC announcements, follow reputable physicians and scientists on Twitter such as Ronald Klain, Celine Gounder and Trevor Bedford. Happy quarantining! 

Alex Nisbet


Mar. 19

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.