Disgusted. Outraged. Embarrassed. Terrified. These are just a few words to describe the feeling that the many parties have left the Boulder community feeling during the now year-long pandemic, COVID-19.
Whether it be a party of 2,000 students or a group of just 15 people, one positive test can lead to a super spreader event Boulder does not want and frankly can not handle. On the one-year anniversary of Colorado’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, 2,000 University of Colorado (CU) Boulder students gathered on the hill to party, creating mass chaos and destruction.
As word quickly spread about the CU Boulder party on Saturday, March 6, many began to take to their social media to express their feelings about the party. A constant theme that embodied most of these posts is an overwhelming agreement (from those who did not attend the party) that this was a violent, uncaused riot staged as a party full of privileged CU Boulder students who do not have any respect for the community members of Boulder.
The students attending this event were not anonymous either. Students at this party were filmed at multiple points throughout the night, “documenting” the super spreader event. In the background of a video earlier in the evening of the part, listeners can hear a student in attendance cheerfully saying, “This feels good, this feels good, Boulder’s back baby!” while standing on the roof of a house watching the mob of hundreds of students begin crowding the street.
Yes, the problem of partying during COVID-19 does not only occur at CU Boulder. That is the main issue. It has become a cultural norm for many schools with COVID-19 regulations loosely applied to students with no actual consequence and reopening their doors for in-person classes to continue creating super-spreader events along the way. However, pretending that it’s “not fair” because other college kids throw parties is pointless. The Boulder community members are directly impacted by the choices of CU Boulder students, not college kids from a state across the county. CU Boulder students venture out into the town of Boulder on a daily basis, shopping at the same grocery stores and eating at the same restaurants as members of the Boulder community do as well. Students with reckless behavior directly put Boulder residents at risk and don’t seem to care about the community as a whole either.
This party not only affected Boulder residents but also made national news. Not only will this party likely skyrocket Boulder cases, but it also makes both the town and the school look bad even though the 100,000 residents had nothing to do with it. While many Boulder High students had already planned to leave Boulder for college, some students have now officially crossed CU Boulder off their potential college list and changed their plans for next year.
This party-turned violent riot at CU Boulder was the worst we’ve seen so far, but it in no way was an isolated event in Boulder this year.
In this time of social media, it’s easy to keep tabs on what our peers are doing. Seemingly half of the senior class was remote this past week due to a chain of parties that infected and quarantined numerous individuals. From Tik Tok, Snapchat and Instagram, it’s easy to see that many people are participating in unsafe and disrespectful behavior. They attend parties during lunch, sharing glasses, standing closer to one another than the recommended six feet and then jumping from friend group to friend group without batting an eye. What’s even worse is that when these individuals know that they are feeling sick, have been exposed, or even are infected with COVID-19, they still “need” to party with each other in the Boulder community. This is simply unacceptable.
Whether it be a group of 20 like we’ve seen from Boulder High students or a group of 2,000 CU kids, a single COVID-19 case could infect multiple other citizens of Boulder and lock the town down even quicker than a year ago when COVID-19 first hit Colorado.
As young people, it’s easy to ignore the threat of COVID-19. Many believe if we catch it, we’re likely to recover quickly, we likely won’t lose the income we needed to feed and house our families, and we won’t rack up hundreds of thousands in hospital debt. We, for the most part, aren’t in direct danger from COVID-19. But, we are not the ones we should be staying careful to protect.
The pandemic has affected minorities and low-income households disproportionately more than it has affected anyone else. Due to the long-standing racial inequity in our country, racial and ethnic minorities often have an increased risk of getting sick and dying. These communities are more likely to be working front-line like healthcare, grocery and shopping, public transportation, sanitation, and restaurants that will all be directly in contact with infectious individuals.
Many individuals our age participate in sharing petitions and pro-BLM infographics and attend the peaceful downtown protests to fight racial inequality. Yet, some of the biggest perpetrators are spreading this deadly virus. At the moment, Boulder County is at High Risk for COVID-19 and individuals between the ages of 10 and 22 account for 6,035 of the 19,000 all-time county cases. That’s over 30 percent of the total COVID-19 cases coming from an age group that isn’t supposed to be affected by the virus because we are young.
If you think that in our very white, very liberal and affluent town, the pandemic can’t touch you and it doesn’t matter if you are irresponsible and party; you need to check your privilege.
You have the resources to recover from COVID-19, but you also have the resources to avoid getting infected with it by following CDC guidelines, staying home when you’re sick and wearing masks when you’re with a group of people. This pandemic has killed 524,000 people and that number is growing; a year lost to sitting inside isn’t going to kill you. It’s easy to avoid a party. It isn’t so easy to dig a grave.
Going back to the party at CU Boulder on March 6th, it’s easy to see that many people view COVID-19, a global pandemic, as a joke. Videos surfacing of the event have captions like “We’re so back baby” and “during a panoramic [shake my head]” jesting at the severity of this event. Some comments on popular Instagram account, TotalFratMove, jeer “Snitches get stitches,” possibly referencing that the Boulder Police are accepting anonymous tips about the riot. But, this is already a case of life and death because this event will inevitably become a super spreader and partying during a pandemic is simply unacceptable.
Being able to be safe is a privilege. The privilege to have access to medicine and treatment to battle COVID-19 is a right that everyone should have. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but neither is the right to party. Be safe, be careful and please remember that the pandemic is in no way over just because you’re over it.