Students cope with bar restrictions

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Santiago Cuevas

Graphic by Tran Bui.
Reporting by Santiago Cuevas and and Kaitlin Jacobson.
When not grappling with a pandemic, Augustana students enjoy spending their weekends with their friends to have good time and escape from their notoriously busy schedules.
In previous years, students of legal drinking age have been able to go to local bars to sit with friends, get to know new people, relax and dance after a hard week of classes and extracurriculars. However, current Augustana restrictions prohibit students from visiting the district.
“I miss seeing everybody [at the bars],”  Sarah Schwarm, junior, said. “I feel so distanced from a lot of people I used to hang out with all of the time.”
While bar restrictions are a necessary part of Augustana’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, students feel a bit disappointed about how COVID-19 has affected their social lives on campus.
“There is a lot of wishing for everything you expected this year to come back. For that to get taken away is a little rough,” Chase Fahy, senior, said.
With physical distancing comes emotional struggle. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students are unable to go inside of bars or be in groups larger than ten people. These guidelines can be tricky, as they encourage students to create different “bubbles,” or smaller friend groups. While having these bubbles is not impossible, it creates frustration.
“People are forced to make choices about the people they want to hang out with,” Schwarm said. “It’s almost excluding at times.”
Being trapped inside of a bubble can be difficult, especially since students are encouraged to stay on campus or in their housing accommodations most of the time.
Although the bars can be a very social place for students, they also gave students a place to decompress after finishing the week. It motivated students to finish their work earlier and study harder so that they could have the weekend to relax. But without access to the district at the moment, some students struggle to have the same motivation they once did.
“It’s a little bit harder for me to focus on academics during the week because I usually have more to look forward to on the weekends socially than I do now,” Jeff Flinchem, junior, said.
“It makes school life a little draining because you don’t have that release, you can never go out and not think about school,” Schwarm said.
Despite losing a weekend destressor, students are making the best of what opportunities they have. They’ve had to get creative with what they are doing with their weekends instead of going out.
“We’ll just hang out at our houses. We’ll watch movies, play games and we do a potluck once a week,” Flinchem said .
Other students have brought the spirit of off-campus bars to their campus housing.
“We turned our garage into our own bars, and we’ve been having bonfires three or four times a week. We bought a dart board, and we play cards,” said Fahy.
While many students have made the effort to enjoy themselves within the school’s restrictions, others still find themselves being disappointed in their peers’ failure to follow guidelines.
“There are the kind of people who are making these things go on longer than they need to,” John Cunningham, senior, said. “They’re the reason that we need to continue to wear masks, continue to distance, continue to not have parties. The longer they continue to do it, the longer those who are actually following the guidelines have to follow them.”
Everyone has a role to play in terms of how well the pandemic is being managed. If students choose to ignore guidelines, then it will only extend the time the regulations are in place and further limit students’ ability to form important social connections.
“I miss the social interaction. I’m not one for big parties, but I miss the opportunity to have the chance to do it [and] having it be an option,” Cunningham said.
People are more isolated and more restricted in terms of who they are able to talk to. Students often find themselves interacting the most with the people rooming with them simply because that’s sometimes all they have.
“I feel like if I want to hang out with [more of my friends] I’m breaking guidelines, and I feel like I’m the problem when that happens,” Cunningham said. “And it’s just frustrating because I miss a lot of these people I use to hang out with and can’t see them when I want to.”
This semester, while difficult, is all about being adaptable. It’s about making sure that the Augie community is able to thrive despite the ongoing obstacle that is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m happy about it in the sense that it’s necessary,” Flinchem said, “It’s a sacrifice but a small one. This year is all about making sacrifices.”