Kueppers: To each their own

In the face of a global pandemic, everyone has their own way of seeing the world.

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Henry Kueppers

In the pre-pandemic world, I was terrified of several things: heights, snakes and parking garages (people always get killed in parking garages in movies and TV). Now, I live in constant fear of the coronavirus. Luckily, I am privileged to have no prior health conditions that put me in a higher risk group. That being said, I recently found out that you can lose your sense of smell and taste from COVID-19 and seeing as I’ve grown to like these two senses over the years, I’m terrified of losing them.

In summary, I am cautious, overprotective and serious when it comes to the current pandemic. However, as you probably have seen on social media, not everyone feels this same way. In fact, college students across the country continue to throw bodacious gatherings and tubular parties (in case it’s not yet clear, before COVID-19 I was not invited to many parties). Because of this, I decided to sit down with some college students and hear what their perspectives were on the coronavirus pandemic and why they make the decisions they do.

Second-year student Jake Budke

So, all your roommates have gotten COVID?

Yes.

And how many roommates do you have?

I have four roommates.

Because all your roommates got COVID, did that make you more scared of COVID? Or because you didn’t get it, you were kind of like, “Well, I’m invincible now.”

Honestly, it made me a little more scared, which is probably not what other people are saying. It kind of put everything into perspective. Like, this virus is here. It made me realize we’re not as invincible as we think we are.

And you’re involved in Greek life right?

Yes.

So, when you go to the frat house, is everybody wearing masks?

It’s really messed up. Basically everyone has to wear a mask at all times when we’re together and whatever. But there’s always exceptions where people like the president and the vice president don’t wear masks all the time. Sometimes, they are not wearing their masks at all.

But no parties?

When it was warmer out … There were a bunch of pool parties that would go down, which had … I’m not even kidding, like 300 to 400 people.

You went to a party with 300 people? Weren’t you scared about COVID?

I actually only attended one for like 10 minutes for a friend’s birthday. But when I was there and seeing Snapchat stories, not a single person wore a mask.

Was it scary? Or just kind of like, “Whatever, I’m just at a party”?

I mean, just being surrounded in an atmosphere of people not giving a shit, it kind of rubs off on you in the moment. Then, after I left, I came back to reality and was like, “Well, that was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen or done.”

Fourth-year student Morgan Gast:

What is your number one fear in regards to the pandemic?

I think my number one fear — which is honestly pretty selfish, I guess — in the whole scheme of things, but still really realistic, it’s just finding a job or doing things after college.

You’re worried COVID gets in the way of that.

Yeah. Now, so many job options are put on hold that we were already gonna have to work so hard to get to after college. So, I think I’m worried about that.

So, would you say you kind of worry more about the future versus right now, the present moment?

Yeah. I mean, I’m not too worried right now. I guess my main fear, I don’t think is health —

It’s financial stability, right?

Yeah, yeah. I guess I would say that. That was always the concern before, and it’s especially … it’s harder to come by stability in jobs even more.

So, does COVID play any effect then into your daily life routine?

In a weird way, COVID has totally decreased my depression and anxiety, and I don’t know why. And I think it’s because I get to spend so much time at home, and I don’t feel guilty for it. I like being at home. And I like having this time, and before I felt so pressured to, like, go out, and there were so many stimuli coming into my life. But now I don’t, like, have to deal with those.’

I don’t think I have ever heard that. You might be one of the few people who can say that.

Fourth-year student Jacques Frank-Loron:

So, you are the president of your fraternity? Correct?

Yes.

What would you say are your priorities right now, being the leader of a house that big? Is your priority just number one, everybody’s safety, or number two, everybody’s comfortable, or like, “Let’s just all make it out in one piece and make sure we all graduate”?

We’re doing our best to keep people safe and keep people’s families safe. And so I’d say, yeah, physical and mental health have been huge priorities for me because I’ve had my own challenges in those areas. And I think the pandemic environment is so much harder on everyone right now.

It’s changed the entire world, which reminds me: How are you viewing the world right now? Is it through fear? Is it through indifference?

My brother actually caught COVID, so it’s real for me. So, as far as where I’m at, I’m frustrated, to say the least. I didn’t want my senior year or the back half of my junior year to go this way. And I’m upset with how it’s affected our communities. But I’m also hopeful. I’ve seen a lot of really good change and a lot of people learning a lot about themselves during this time. So I think everyone’s gonna come out of the pandemic here with a new understanding of who they are.

Finally, what are your feelings about COVID right now? Like one buzz word to describe it.

I’m just super numb to it at this point. There’s no real emotional response in any way.

Fourth-year student Courtney Annakin:

What are your main priorities during this COVID-19 pandemic? Is it health? Is it friends and family? Is it having a good time?

I would have to say my friends and family because I don’t want to infect them. But, like, I’ll be fine if I get it. But I don’t want to give it to anybody else.

That’s very chivalrous of you.

I feel like my actions have repercussions and if they happen to me, it doesn’t bother me as much. I’m like, “I did this thing.” And I’m fully capable of understanding that that has a consequence. But I don’t want to push that consequence onto other people. I can put myself in danger all day. Putting other people in danger is bad.

Absolutely.

At this point, just do your due diligence. Wash your hands for 20 seconds. You should be wearing a mask. You should be keeping your distance; you shouldn’t go to ragers on campus.

Are you still frightened by the COVID-19 pandemic then? Or are you used to it?

I think it is terrifying. But I think the government has kind of played down what’s going on, which is scary. They say things like, “Oh, it’s fine. Everything’s cool.” And everything’s really, really bad.

Do you have any other thoughts, feelings or stories about COVID that you feel are relevant to share?

If you are partying right now, you’re a bad person.

These interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.