covid party flier  - Photo by Hunter Huffman

A flier for a gathering in Bowling Green, which was posted in the Falcon's Pointe apartment complex in late July. It is unaffiliated with the complex itself.

As a BGSU student, you are probably disappointed in the lack of in-person social opportunities due to the coronavirus. As new students, you have signed the student commitment form, which promises your commitment to protect the faculty and students at BGSU by not attending large gatherings. Make no mistake, while the probability of contracting coronavirus at a party is not 100%, the moral color of such an action is clear: if you attend a traditional college party with dozens of people, no social distancing and no masks, you are a morally bad person.

The causal relationship you have with infecting community members is not, ultimately, what makes your choices morally bad. If you drive drunk and make it home, the fact that you made it home is not what gives it good or bad morality, it is that you were willing to take the known risks at harming people at the onset of driving. 

Universities in democratic societies have long roots in individual rights, but rights at the cost of others’ health have not been. You have no right to drive drunk because it endangers others. Universities in democratic societies also have strong roots in being tolerant of individual choices, and not condemning bad or good moral choices that have no bearing on public health. 

A morally good person is a person making good moral choices, and a morally bad person is a person making morally bad choices. This may sound mundane, however, as a tolerant democratic society we rarely condemn people for bad moral behavior and typically write differing opinions and actions off as freedom of thought. This is not the case of things currently. If you are not practicing safe social interactions in light of the pandemic, you are making a poor moral decision, and therefore as a community we can recognize you as a poor moral agent. 

The fact that you can’t know if you will become infected from attending such a party is no protection from the condemnation of being a bad moral agent. Everyone knows the risks at this point, and choosing to attend a party makes you complicit in the cases that will surely emerge as classes begin. We all want our normal social life to return, but not being realistic about the sacrifices you must make as a citizen and a BGSU student will result in people of our community becoming sick.

The health of the faculty members who make a commitment to provide you with an education  —  the reason for which you are here  —  are dependent upon your moral choices as a student more than ever. 

Democracy depends on a community that values the health of others. If there is no shared fate in a democracy, then there is no way in which it can advocate for the good of the population. Good moral choices are the smallest unit of being a community member, a citizen in a democracy and a student. The state of in-person classes ultimately rests on how good of moral agents the majority of the student body is.

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