801 day 2020 (copy)

The ISD Editorial Board examines the repercussions of the large parties on "801 day."

The Saturday before classes began, Iowa State University students demonstrated their lack of responsibility, empathy and respect for other Iowa State and Ames community members by celebrating "801 day" per usual — with all-day drinking, houses and lawns swarming with people and party hopping. 

Footage of the maskless parties was appalling enough to gain harsh criticism on social media. One video of the parties gained over 31,000 views on YouTube and received national attention.

"801 day"

A large group of students gather at a house party without social distancing on "801 day."

To add to the chaos, Iowa State and Ames police did little — aside from condemning the actions of the students — to enforce social distancing at these gatherings. Unfortunately, the repercussions of 801 day in the midst of a pandemic are difficult to immediately measure, but obvious once it becomes too late. 

There is a danger in assuming all young adults are healthy and capable of easily overcoming COVID-19. Even if college-aged students may be more likely to survive COVID-19, there is still a large surge in this age group contracting the virus — oftentimes asymptomatic, making the transmission of COVID-19 even easier. 

Furthermore, students and community members with compromised immune systems cannot afford to come into contact with COVID-19. The feeling of invincibility as a young adult is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 and it was extremely disheartening to see students shamelessly put their desire to party before the health of their peers. 

While many classes are online, in-person and hybrid classes are still a large part of this semester, increasing the likely spread from 801 day partiers to classmates, professors, faculty and all of their families. 

Should Iowa State have anticipated 801 day and taken proactive measures? Or was it the responsibility of the fraternities and sororities to denounce 801 day? While the blame game is easy to play, it doesn’t address the likely influx of positive COVID-19 cases at Iowa State. 

Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen’s recent email about enforcing social distancing policies proved the university is becoming increasingly concerned for the longevity of in-person classes because of instances like this. Several other campuses have already reverted to virtual learning after a week of in-person classes led to spikes in COVID-19 cases. 

However, it also left many students unconvinced of real consequences. Suspension seems doubtful to many, but Drake University enforced two-week suspensions to 14 students after partying and Purdue University suspended 36 students for the same reason. Other policies, such as a three-strike system or monetary fines for students who refuse to abide by social distancing rules, may also prove to be effective.

Contact between students, faculty and community members will only continue to increase as time goes on, especially with in-person classes. It is the responsibility of every individual to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The entirety of the Ames and Iowa State communities will be largely impacted by 801 day events, which begs the question, was it worth it? 

The bottom line is 801 day most likely shortened the (already cut short) duration of in-person classes and put people at unnecessary risk.

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(2) comments

Jamison Osborne

Once again fraternities and sororities continue to live down to our expectations. It's bad enough that they openly encourage underage drinking, to say nothing of the behavioral norms and "traditions" they espouse. But now, in the middle of a pandemic, when everyone should be trying to do their best to follow simple guidelines so we can get back to normalcy just a little bit quicker, there are hundreds of students acting the fool in broad daylight. In my opinion, every single person in that photo is an adult and every single one of them is old enough to understand the situation we are in. Every single one also should have the intellectual capacity to understand just how irresponsible and reprehensible their behavior is. If they are willing to engage in that behavior, they should be willing to accept the consequences. Every student in that photo should be expelled from the University. Their tuition is not worth the lives and safety of the thousands of people in Ames who are doing their part to live responsibly in this time of crisis.

Vincent Montabon

Greater fault rests with the Iowa State administration, and the Greek community is the scapegoat. Any students partying are making a bad and selfish decision. But anyone with eyes and ears could see this coming. Iowa State should have been online only if keeping infections low is really their goal. It seems like they wanted to get their dorm and dining hall checks though.

801 day is not just a Greek community party, there are thousands of unaffiliated students who party on 801 day. Also, people who aren’t even ISU students come here for 801 day. When I was in college I personally chatted with people who came here from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, etc. Iowa State’s semester starts earlier than some other schools, so students come from other schools because they’re bored. I would say that maybe 20% of partying students are from our Greek community but we get 100% of the blame.

Also, every bar in town is open 7 days a week right now.

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