London·Point of View

Western needs to suspend students who party during pandemic

The vast majority new COVID-19 cases are coming from young people aged 20 to 29, and Western University, Fanshawe College and the city of London have merely stood by, wagging their fingers.

My Instagram and TikTok feeds are full of students purposefully ignoring the quarantine rules

Richmond Row in London was quiet Thursday night after the health unit revealed more than 2 dozen Western students were infected with COVID-19. (Colin Butler/ CBC News)

London's COVID-19 cases are growing at an alarming rate. And, while a vast majority of these numbers are coming from young people ages 20 to 29, Western University, Fanshawe College and the City of London have merely stood by, wagging their fingers.

The time for "re-educating" bubble-breakers is over. Those who don't follow social distancing guidelines need to face serious consequences. 

Approximately 46 Western University students, including one in residence, have tested positive for the coronavirus. This week, the Middlesex-London Health Unit said two other Western students are considered "high risk" but they are refusing to get tested.

While it's not surprising that cases surged as students returned to the city, it is unacceptable for those students to flood Richmond Row and attend house parties in the middle of a pandemic.

My Instagram and TikTok feeds are full of students purposefully ignoring the quarantine rules.

Neighbour Bruce Wood said he watched as scores of students began to arrive at a house party in Old North the first week classes resumed. At one point, he said he counted 45 people leaving but said there were still more inside. (Submitted by Bruce Wood)

Looking at my social media feeds, I see students going to bars, throwing parties in residence and standing in drunk huddles on lawns. You'd think the virus disappeared as soon as the school year started. 

For students to take this seriously, London needs to revert back to Phase Two of the provincial government's rules for COVID-19. If the students refuse to listen, Western and Fanshawe should suspend students found guilty of violating pandemic rules.

Call me Draconian, but house parties pose a huge threat, not only for the safety of the students in attendance, but to everyone in the community. Western has tried educating party-goers and doling out warnings.

It's not working! At least not to the extent that we need it to.

Harsh academic and financial consequences may be the only ways left to get students still partying to care.

The vast majority of us are not acting like this. We're following the guidelines to the best of our abilities, not partying and wearing masks. I wish I could go out and see my friends again but I know it's not fair to put other Londoners at risk just because I want to pretend things are normal and go to dollar beers at Jack's.

Western wouldn't be the first university to propose suspending, or even expelling, students who don't follow guidelines. Syracuse University suspended 23 students in August for taking part in a large gathering on their quad. Ohio State University suspended more than 200 students for breaking pandemic guidelines before classes began.

Closer to home, Queen's University announced it would expel students who "flagrantly" break pandemic rules.

Last week, Western President Alan Shepard said the school would use the student code against party-goers. He should stick to that statement.

The pandemic isn't over just because you're over it. And, for us students, it's time to prove that we are more responsible than the numbers show.


Sarah Wallace

Western University student

Sarah Wallace is a third-year Western University student and a culture editor for the Western Gazette.