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Credit: Navraj Singh

Any claim that partying and socializing is beneficial right now for your mental health is a blatant excuse. As a vocal mental health advocate, I often attest to how crucial it is to take care of ourselves during a pandemic with an indefinite timeline. But there are countless ways to cope other than partying and breaking COVID-19 guidelines.

If you are actively breaking safety protocols, then you are practically basing your self-worth and happiness levels on partying and socializing. Frankly, partying shouldn’t be your identity or the pillar of your Penn experience. If it is, then you must re-evaluate your priorities and judgment-making. Quite literally, most Penn students I’ve personally met are far more preoccupied with their plans on Friday night than their midterm on Monday morning. We pride ourselves on our reputation as the “Social Ivy” for an obvious reason, but there’s so much more to your life and your college experience than spending a majority of nights out wasted.   

Penn students, please stop being selfish and immature. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not Penn’s fault that many COVID-19 regulations have been broken. Such policies are not unreasonable by any means, and it’s not Penn’s responsibility to babysit us, punish us, or hold us accountable with the Student Campus Compact. The University may not have anticipated such rampant violations of guidelines; after all, we’re expected to be mature enough to make sound decisions. But have we proved ourselves to be capable of restricting our temptations for the greater community? Not at all.

Here’s the reality that most Penn students won’t admit: The administration put its trust in us — and we broke it. So stop blaming Penn, because it’s our fault. Not everyone’s fault, just those who continue going out and partying. Your unhealthy dependency on a night out is the reason why this pandemic has endured for much longer than anyone expected.

Many Penn professors have stated that they understand why some students are partying, because they would have behaved the same way when they were our age. But in doing so, they are practically encouraging students to continue their ways — simply because going out is so normalized. Not much has changed since a year ago; going out during a pandemic still puts others at risk.

Don’t get me wrong; I love going out, whether it be at a nightclub, a bar, or for bottomless brunch. I actually had my flight and hotel booked for Vegas far in advance for my 21st birthday party (arguably the biggest birthday of your life), but I unfortunately canceled it because of the pandemic. Why can’t others do the same?

Let’s remember that learning to be alone and feeling wholly secure in yourself is very much underrated. As Penn students, we are too caught up with networking, parading large social circles, and forming new relationships or friendships that this all actually becomes counterproductive and quite detrimental. Your happiness and your friendships shouldn’t be contingent on whether you attend some social event or party — rather, learn to love yourself regardless. 

With spring break just over, I’m certain that Penn students have traveled to Miami, New York, Puerto Rico, Cabo, and the like — and inevitably, positive cases will continue surging. In case you forgot, there are still COVID-19-safe ways to socialize. Your disregard for others’ wellbeing is glaring and abhorrent. You may not be affected by the pandemic, but you are nonetheless contributing to the pandemic’s effect.

BRIDGET YU is a College junior from Los Angeles, Ca. studying Psychology. Her email address is bridgtyu@sas.upenn.edu.

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