When it comes to renewing social distancing, double standards run rampant

Madeline Kemp, Quaking in my Boots!

This week Washington State re-upped its restrictions on businesses, and Governor Inslee addressed Washingtonians asking that they not gather in person for Thanksgiving. 

People are now reconsidering their attitude toward COVID this winter, and have re-instilled their sense of awareness that had become lax this fall as cases continue to rise. However, the situation is more nuanced than we previously believed.

As one Whitman student put it, “I understand the move but none of these restrictions… apply to me, right? Like my housemates and people I’m not friends with should definitely do this.”  

This student’s housemate weighed in, “Yeah, I think that she should be more careful. I see her leaving and hanging out with this other house all the time with people who are so random. I bet she’ll cut back.”

When asked how the restriction will impact her day-to-day, she said, “I’m going to keep my circle limited to my lab partner’s apartment, the family that I babysit for, my friends’ house and my boyfriend’s place. He lives with guys in his frat, but I don’t talk to them, and they only go to the frat to eat. I always keep my mask on except to talk.”

We’ve been really good for so long, and have only slowly added people to our list of contacts to expand our ‘bare minimums’ for social fulfillment. It was really hard in the spring and over the summer to only see the people we live with and others outside. It’s cold out and, frankly, we’re sick of each other. 

Another senior living in Walla Walla said, “I was only hanging at one other house, until I realized that they were going to our other friends’ place, and I really miss those guys so I started tagging along. Those friends have actually gotten close with some of their coworkers, and we sometimes play drinking games.” 

When asked what, if anything, makes him nervous about his social scheme these days, he said, “Oh, my roommate is definitely the weak link in my house. He’s always visiting home. Like, what the heck? I don’t want to be exposed to whatever your parents’ are up to. And I’m pretty sure they’re freaking teachers.”

The general consensus is that students will carry on business as usual and will expect those around them to cut out unnecessary contacts. Many students still plan to go home for Thanksgiving, Jay Inslee be damned. It’s helpful to note here that one in three Whitman parents are doctors and/or know better than him anyway.

When students let one another know that they will be seeing their parents soon, so they think they maybe want to try being more cautious – they are met with agreement: “Me too, I’m totally telling my parents that you’re quarantining with me right now.”