FOCO Frustrations

Lack of social distancing during this year’s Homecoming activities was worrying

When Sackville summer came to an end and the students returned this fall, the parties returned with them, and while this usually kick-starts the spirit of the school year, this year’s pandemic made these parties disheartening and a little bit frightening. Understandably, the students typically have a lot on their minds as they make their way back. New classes and deadlines, new friends, new opportunities, and the biggest event of the month (arguably, the school year!) homecoming. This year, however, we were met with something else that was new: a new set of rules to follow in order to keep each other safe. These rules didn’t stop homecoming from happening, though. HOCO – or, as it was called this year, FOCO – was still rampant, up-close and personal, as were the students. 

Although there were no large planned events, people still met during homecoming to celebrate. Though I was not one of those people this year – I tend to be a bit of a homebody during Homecoming either way – I kept a close eye on what was happening around me, and for the most part, it was relaxed. From what I was seeing, people were gathering in smaller groups during the day to celebrate, but the night came along, and my social media was blown up by people who were angered by the FOCO events. Students were gathering in large groups, without their masks on, to party hard during HOCO, and the students that weren’t partying were rightfully enraged. Am I disgusted? God, yes. Am I surprised? Not in the slighted. Am I also a tiny bit conflicted? I hate to admit it, but yes, I am. 

See, there’s two sides of this party-crazy coin, and while the side that points towards the negative is much bigger, I do feel a sense of pity for the partygoers, because I get it. University is supposed to be hard work but when it’s not hard work, it’s supposed to be a liberating experience. Everyone has that one moment when they realize the best part about becoming an adult; that they’re free to be themselves and do what they want to do with their lives. Think about it. Do you remember your first moment of unadulterated freedom? Now, my fellow students are living with all of these new rules and are therefore stuck without the freedom to see who they want, do what they want, and be where they want. I miss that immensely. I miss my friends, I miss full classes. I miss being able to sit at a random table in the library, bumping into a stranger at a bar, sitting in a restaurant in a large group, working on-campus with my loved ones. My heart’s been yearning for this for months, and I can’t imagine how everyone else is feeling, either. So, while I am a little disappointed with our community, I’m not going to stand here and point fingers at anyone.

On the other side of things, though… partying, especially right now, isn’t going to make you any more of an adult, or make you feel any freer. It’s going to put you in proximity with new people, which could spread germs, which will make people sick. It could make you sick, and your friends. Your professors, and Mount Allison staff. Your fellow students. Your community. The young, the elderly, the immunocompromised. To disobey the rules during a period of time like this is incredibly selfish, as it’s not just you here in Sackville. The towns of Sackville, Dorchester, Port Elgin, Memramcook, Baie Vert and other surrounding communities are supported by the one small hospital here in town. If the cases spike in our area, how is the hospital going to take care of all of us? Short answer: It won’t. 

There are a million other ways to feel free. Sackville, as everyone comes to learn, is the quirkiest little town in the Maritimes – it is vast and beautiful and free. You can find it by yourself at a café downtown. You can find it sitting on the wharf of silver lake, listening to the frogs croak and looking at the stars. You can find it in the grass by Broken Bridge, as the midnight train whirrs by and sings into the night. When I saw the midnight train for the first time, sitting in the grass with two of my friends, I cried. That’s when I felt free. 

So, I understand the partying, and why people want to do it. It’s fun, and it’s freeing. I miss fun, too. I miss freedom like you wouldn’t believe. Here in Sackville, though, you don’t have to be bumping into a stranger with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade in your hand to find freedom. All you’ve got to do is find a friend and walk somewhere. You’d be surprised at the amount of fun in that. 

Grace Tarrant
Grace Tarrant is a contributor to the Argosy.